Gay marriage supporters in Illinois
have announced the launch of a $2 million statewide campaign to
legalize gay nuptials in Illinois.
The announcement comes after a marriage
bill stalled in the House after passage in the Senate. Its champion
in the House, Democratic Representative Greg Harris, who is openly
gay, tearfully announced on the House floor his decision not to call
the bill for a vote during the spring session but instead to wait
until the fall.
Illinois Unites for Marriage said its
new campaign includes the hiring of a campaign manager, a field
director and a faith organizer.
“I'm excited to lead this already
strong leadership team,” said John Kohlhepp, the group's
newly-tapped campaign manager. “Our expanded leadership structure
brings together labor, political, community and religious organizing,
creating a ground-game that directly engages voters to win the
freedom to marry in Illinois.”
The strategic plan also includes a
coordinated House party engagement program, and a social media
component. Its field program is made up of 15 organizers placed
throughout the state, whose mission will be to engage directly with
voters and legislators on the issue.
“With the recent Supreme Court ruling
on DOMA, Illinois families need marriage more urgently than ever, and
they shouldn't have to travel outside our borders to get it,”
Kohlhepp said. “Illinois Unites will bring same-sex couples and
their children the protections and responsibilities of marriage as
soon as possible.”
Illinois is one of the four states
which recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. With DOMA
gone, moving each into the marriage equality column has become a
priority for supporters. Gay couples in civil unions cannot access
the federal benefits now being extended to married couples.