Illinois lawmakers returning to work on
Monday are being lobbied by gay marriage supporters to approve a
stalled marriage bill this week.
Illinois Democrats first passed on the
bill during last year's fall session. Supporters said they simply
ran out of time to debate the measure.
The Illinois Senate approved the bill
on Valentine's Day. The House decided to table it until the fall.
But increasingly Democrats have
signaled that the issue won't come up during the short session.
For one, they say that a vote this week
would leave lawmakers open to primary challengers – something
opponents have pledged to carry out. The session's November 7 end
leaves sufficient time, three weeks, for opponents to mount primary
challenges against House members who vote for gay nuptials.
Rick Garcia, policy director of The
Civil Rights Agenda, told the Chicago
Tribune that the political calendar was likely to make
marriage a non-starter during the session.
“That's what the holdup is,” Garcia
told the paper.
Additionally, Representative Greg
Harris, a Democrat and the bill's champion in the House, has refused
to announce a vote count.
Late last month, Representative Deb
Conroy, a Democrat from Villa Park, announced her support for the
marriage bill, making her the first House member to do so since May.
“This is the right thing to do,”
she said. “We have waited too long. I think it's the civil rights
issue of our time and we need to move past this.”
Rep. Al Riley, an Olympia Fields
Democrat, and Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, a Hillside Democrat, each
told the AP this week that they would vote “yes” on the
Illinois is facing mounting pressure to
act. Following a Supreme Court ruling striking down a portion of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gay couples in a marriage can access
federal benefits, but those in a civil union cannot. That ruling was a
game changer in New Jersey, which, like Illinois, had adopted civil
Harris could decide to once again table
the bill until January.