Supporters of gay marriage staged a
rally in Chicago on Saturday to protest the sudden defeat of a
proposed marriage bill in the Illinois House.
On the final day of the regular
session, Rep. Greg Harris, the bill's champion in the chamber,
tearfully announced that he would not call the bill for a vote. A
loud uproar was heard from the public gallery, where supporters were
While Harris has all along refused to
disclose a vote count, he had previously said that he would only call
the bill when it had sufficient support to clear the chamber and last
week he pledged he would call the bill for a vote. That led many to
believe that the legislation, which cleared the Senate on Valentine's
Day, would soon be headed to the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, who has
pledged his signature.
Harris told colleagues on the House
floor that he would call the legislation in November.
Speculation on what happened abounds,
but at least one
source quotes an unnamed source as saying that the measure lost
12 “yes” votes in the final days leading to Friday's meltdown.
The Chicago Tribune reported
that the chamber's 20 African-America members were heavily targeted
by a group of African-American clergy opposed to the proposed
legislation. Only a handful of these lawmakers had publicly endorsed
At least one activist has blamed House
Speaker Mike Madigan for the defeat.
“[I]f he had insisted on a positive
vote from his caucus, it would have passed,” said Andy Thayer, a
prominent Chicago-area LGBT rights activist.
At the evening rally, more than 50
supporters gathered at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe streets.
“This was so completely and totally
outrageous,” said Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda. Garcia
described the failure to vote on the bill as a “complete and total
“I don't know how much longer any of
these people can wait,” Garcia added. “And they shouldn't have
Supporters promised to stage more
rallies in the coming weeks and months.