The Illinois Senate on Thursday is expected to advance a bill legalizing same-sex marriage to a vote in the state House of Representatives, the last remaining obstacle to marriage equality in the land of Lincoln.

The historic vote could come as early as 11 a.m. Thursday, according to the Windy City Times, and marriage equality proponents are very confident in their odds.

The bill was advanced last week by the state Senate Executive Committee, for the second time. Following that vote, the powerful Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said he, too, was confident the bill will be approved by the full Senate in its Valentine’s Day vote and, in his State of the State address, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn urged both chambers of the state General Assembly to approve the bill so that he can sign into law.

The state House of Representatives is considered to be more conservative than the state Senate and those opposed to the bill are also ramping up their efforts. Downstate, Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki issued a screed urging that Catholics who “propose or promote the legal establishment of marriage as something other than the union of one man and one woman harm the common good of society.”

If Illinois moves to legalize same-sex marriage, it will become the tenth marriage equality U.S. state. The state has had civil unions available for same-sex couples since June 2011.

The vote on #ILSB10 could happen as early as 11AM CST tomorrow. #IL4M #ILequality #Twill #ILove #p2 #lgbtq #marriageequality

— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)

February 13, 2013

h/t: Huffington Post

(CNN) – The Illinois Senate will vote Thursday – Valentine’s Day – on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

Because Democrats have supermajority control of the General Assembly, the measure is expected to be approved. After the Senate vote, the measure would be considered by the House.

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated he would sign the bill.

If it is approved, Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization.

Three other states are considering similar legalization, said Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. A bill has passed the Rhode Island House and has been sent to the Senate. A proposal has been introduced in the Hawaii legislature and another is expected in Delaware, Taylor said.

“All eyes are on us,” said Taylor, who is based in Illinois. “It’s looking great. We’re very excited about Illinois.”

“We took the first step towards marriage equality two years ago when I signed civil unions into law. Since that day, thousands of committed couples in 92 counties across our state have entered into civil unions,” he said. “Now is the time for the next step in providing equal rights to all people in Illinois.”

Polls show that legalizing same-sex marriage is gaining support across the country, although it remains less popular in some Midwestern and Southern states than in the rest of the country.

Even Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said in January that he supported same-sex marriage and urged legislators to vote for it. The move prompted criticism from conservative Republicans, including state Sen. Jim Oberweis.

But Oberweis seemed resigned to Republicans lacking the votes to stop the bill.

“I hope that we resolve this issue sooner rather than later because the state of Illinois has some tremendous financial problems to deal with, which in my view is where we should be concentrating our focus and our time,” he said.


BREAKING: #ILSB10 passes House Executive Committee 6-5.

BREAKING: The Illinois House Executive Committee has passed marriage bill #ILSB10 6-5. Off to the full house. #IL4M #Twill #ILequality

February 27, 2013

The full Illinois House of Representatives will likely vote on #ILSB10 as soon as next week. #IL4M #ILequality #twill

February 27, 2013

As a recent town hall meeting in his district quickly grew heated, state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) said for the first time in his political career he wished he had brought something with him — security.

Franks was talking pension reform, but one man opposed to same-sex marriage became particularly agitated.

It was heated. For the first time, I felt, I really should have had security here,” Franks told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He got physically close, I probably asked him eight times to stop and felt he was being rude. We were in a public place. It was a little bizarre.”

Franks isn’t saying which way he’s going to vote on the issue, insisting he hasn’t decided and sees pension reform as his top issue.

In the last several weeks, behind-the-scenes pressure as well as public rancor over a same sex marriage bill still pending in the Illinois House has intensified. Picketers are coming out in force. Legislators have spoken to Cardinal Francis George personally on the phone.

One potential death threat — later deemed unfounded — was under investigation by the Illinois State Police and Mundelein police against Republican Ed Sullivan, a state representative who publicly disclosed his support for the bill.

This year, it’s no surprise there’s a more sophisticated push on both a national and state level, with big donors on both sides intimating they will pull support for a candidate or fund a challenger if the vote doesn’t go their way. House Speaker Michael Madigan has previously said the issue is a dozen votes shy of passage. Behind-the-scenes activists say it’s closer — but therein lies the potential for ramped up volatility.

The National Organization for Marriage has publicly said it would bankroll challengers to any Illinois Republican who votes for the bill. Groups opposed to same sex marriage have funded robo-calls to the districts of undecided lawmakers. The calls ask constituents to simply press a number and they’re directed to their representative’s district office. In some cases, it’s brought an onslaught of callers voicing their opposition.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the House bill, said he’s heard positive feedback from the surprise yes votes — including from Sullivan.

“This is a very important topic, no one should be disrespectful or hateful in their approach,” Harris said.

Bernard Cherkasov of Equality Illinois said his group has sponsored phone banking, where constituents are contacted by phone and educated on same sex marriage. But Cherkasov said that the group urges its volunteers keep the conversation tame and respectful.

H/T: Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s confident same-sex marriage will become law in Illinois.

Quinn told reporters in Chicago on Monday that supporters are “very close” to the votes needed in the state House to pass legislation that grants same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

The Illinois Senate already approved it. But getting the 60 votes needed in the House is proving harder. Quinn didn’t suggest a current vote count, but he said “we’re going to get it done.”

According to Governor Pat Quinn’s wording on this issue, it looks like the Illinois House will likely vote on same-sex marriage within the next two weeks (or really anytime before the end of May). Expect the debate on both sides of the issue to ratchet up to 30 in the coming days on social media, our state Legislature, and in the churches.


The rings? Check. The guest list? Check. The marriage license? Well, that remains to be seen when it comes to same-sex couples in Illinois.

While vocal opposition to same-sex marriage remains, more state politicians and organizations are backing legalization. LGBT advocates believe the gay marriage bill is very close to clearing its last real hurdle: the Illinois House. Elected officials from President Obama to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have endorsed gay marriage. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of two same-sex marriage cases.

“In the last year, both in Illinois and around the rest of the country, the change in public opinion and political support has been phenomenal,” said State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is sponsoring the House’s gay marriage bill.

Opponents are lobbying state legislators to maintain marriage as it currently is defined under state law: a union between a man and a woman. Some say doing so serves the best interests of children.

“The state should have and does have right now a policy which obviously promotes traditional marriage, and we want to keep it that way,” said Paul Caprio, director of Family-Pac, part of the Coalition to Protect Children and Marriage.

Illinois’ gay marriage bill, which was passed by the state Senate in February, would define marriage as an act between two people and give same-sex married couples the same benefits and protections as heterosexual couples. It would not require churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship to provide their religious facilities for marriage ceremonies if such ceremonies are in violation of their religious beliefs.

The gay marriage bill has yet to be called in the House because supporters haven’t secured the 60 votes required to pass it.

If the House passes the bill and Gov. Quinn signs it into law, Illinois would become the 10th state in the country and the second in the Midwest to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The state would join Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., in legalizing gay marriage.

If gay marriage supporters fail to get the bill passed by May 31, the end of the spring session, they likely would have to wait until the fall session to address it.


Harris first proposed the gay marriage bill in 2007. Instead, civil unions for gay couples advanced, giving same-sex couples state benefits but not the federal benefits married couples get. Most states do not recognize civil unions. The Illinois General Assembly passed the civil unions bill in 2010.

The gay marriage bill has been re-introduced but has stalled until this year.

After the state Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day, the House bill still awaits passage.

“Just the pace of change on this topic has been unprecedented,” Harris said. “I think it will continue to move in this direction. People in every walk of life are believing, let’s treat all our families equally.”

A New Family Structures Study by a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin and published last year in the Social Science Research journal found that young adults whose parents have ever had same-sex relationships fared worse in many cases than young adults raised by biological parents in heterosexual marriages.

Among the results: They were more likely to be in therapy for problems linked to anxiety and depression and more likely to have been arrested and be unemployed.

The study was criticized for its methodology and funding from conservative foundations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement in support of marriage equality.

“There is extensive research documenting that there is no causal relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral development,” the statement said. “Many studies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic supports.”

Court cases

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers California’s ban on gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to gay couples, two local cases are pending.

Two lawsuits were filed in May 2012 by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois in Cook County Circuit Court against Cook County Clerk David Orr. The suits note that same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses.

Orr agrees with the plaintiffs that gay couples should be allowed to marry. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Illinois Attorney General’s Office both support the lawsuits and said the state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Cook County officials are not challenging the lawsuit, but clerks from five other counties, allowed by the court to intervene in the lawsuit, are fighting it.

Political heavyweights

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) has introduced gay marriage and civil union bills since 2007. He is the chief sponsor of the gay marriage bill pending in the House while state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is the main sponsor of the gay marriage bill that the Senate passed. If the House passes the bill and it goes to his desk, Gov. Quinn has said he will sign it into law.

Coalition to Protect Children and Marriage

A grassroots group of opponents to gay marriage including the conservative political action committee Family-Pac, the Illinois Family Institute, Eagle Forum of Illinois, Catholic Citizens of Illinois, the Thomas More Society, Abstinence and Marriage Partnership, Lake County Right to Life and Concerned Christian Americans.

Illinois Unites for Marriage

A project of the ACLU Illinois, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal in support of gay marriage that has been endorsed by more than 50 organizations.

h/t: Red Eye Chicago

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) has come out for marriage equality.

Said Kirk on his website:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.

Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most.  Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.

Kirk is the second Republican Senator to come out for marriage equality, joining Ohio’s Rob Portman. A marriage equality bill is currently under consideration in Illinois, awaiting a vote in the House.

I voted for Mark Kirk’s opponent (Giannoulias) in 2010, but good for him. That, however, may make him a primary target from the right in 2016. He joins Illinois’ other Senator (Dick Durbin, D) in supporting marriage equality. 
H/T: Towleroad

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) is the group primarily fighting marriage equality in Illinois, and Thursday it joined other anti-gay groups in championing the “critically important” narrative of Robert Oscar Lopez. Lopez, who blames his lesbian moms for his lack of social skills and leads an ex-gay life, believes that same-sex parenting is “child abuse,” and any attempt by same-sex couples to have a child is a “crime against humanity.”

In a post celebrating Lopez’s anti-adoption “child abuse” rhetoric, IFI’s Laurie Higgins encourages Christians to overcome their fears and engage in “stone-casting” against the “tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force” that is LGBT equality:

Lopez describes what all conservative activists already know: The homosexual community and its ideological allies have become a tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force that compels conformity and compounds the suffering of children intentionally denied mothers or fathers. […]

And still most Christians — and shockingly their leaders — say relatively little. Ever anxious that the non-believing world in its relentless misuse of Scripture will excoriate them for judging (rightly), speck-looking, or stone-casting, Christians opt instead to become complicit in child abuse.

Studies of same-sex parenting have generally found no differences among the children in such families, including any claims of “suffering.” Higgins and the other groups that have shone a spotlight on Lopez magnify stigma against same-sex families, creating the very harm they claim to be protecting the children from.

Even if the marriage equality bill fails when it comes back before the state House this fall, same-sex adoption will still be legal in Illinois. It’s estimated that nearly 4,000 same-sex couples are already raising their own children in the state. IFI offers no solution for these children, but will campaign against their parents as “child abusers” and try to prevent them from enjoying the same legal rights as other families. 

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT