Supporters of legalizing gay marriage
in Illinois on Sunday said that they would increase their lobbying
efforts on a stalled marriage bill.
After passage of the bill in the Senate on
Valentine's Day, the measure's champion in the House, Rep. Greg
Harris, surprised proponents on the last day of the spring
legislative session when he announced that he would not call the bill
for a vote. Harris choked back tears as he explained that he had
assurances from colleagues that they would support the measure in the
fall and pledged to call a vote on the bill in November.
The 11th hour defeat led to
finger pointing and angry demonstrations. Governor Pat Quinn, a
Democrat who had pledged his signature, said that he was “very
disappointed that a vote was not taken.”
Some laid the blame on Harris. Others
pointed to the House Democratic Caucus, led by House Speaker Mike
Madigan. More than 50 activists protested outside Madigan's district
office on Saturday.
“Mike Madigan owns the House,” Gay
Liberation Network co-founder Andy Thayer told Windy
City Media. “He just decided that he wasn't going to put
any political capital in this.”
Illinois Unites for Marriage, the
coalition of groups lobbying for the bill's passage, said that it was
increasing its efforts to ensure passage in the fall.
“The frustration and disappointment
felt across the state when the marriage bill was not called for a
vote has been channeled into refocused work and dedication at
Illinois Unites to win the freedom to marry,” said Jim Benett, a
chair of the Illinois Unites coalition.
The coalition said that it was hiring a
full-time campaign manager who will oversee and coordinate the
statewide advocacy campaign and would gather additional input from
supporters during nine community meetings held over the summer.