The prospects of a civil unions bill
becoming law in Illinois are brighter Thursday with the reelection of
Governor Pat Quinn.
The Associated Press gave the
race to Quinn on Thursday afternoon, but Republican rival Senator
Bill Brady has yet to concede. Brady believes he can still overcome
Quinn's 19,500 lead from remaining absentee ballots. But an analysis
by the AP shows the feat does not appear to be statistically
Quinn's win is meaningful for Illinois'
gay and lesbian community, which is counting on the governor to
support a civil unions bill.
In a response to a Daily Herald
editorial endorsement interview, Quinn said he was looking
forward to signing the bill before Christmas.
“The votes are there, I believe. In
the Senate for sure, and definitely I think we can do it in the
“I think we can pass it this year,”
he added. “I would like to see it voted on earlier.”
Openly gay Illinois State
Representative Greg Harris' civil unions bill passed out of committee
in the spring, but lawmakers have yet to vote on it.
Brady, who supports efforts to put an
amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union in the Illinois
State Constitution, wasn't likely to sign the bill as governor.
Lawmakers have suggested they'll take
up the bill during the Legislature's lame-duck session before the end
of the year.
Harris and state Senator Heather Steans
have also introduced bills that would legalize gay marriage.
Supporters of civil unions, which give
gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as marriage, point to
polls that indicate stronger support for the unions than marriage.
Quinn, however, said he would back a
gay marriage bill if “the voters of Illinois want to have it come
Quinn enjoyed the support of Equality
Illinois, the state's largest gay rights advocate, which distributed
450,000 absentee ballot applications.
“I am so proud that Equality Illinois
was able to play the key role in re-electing Governor Quinn,”
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of the group, told ChicagoPride.com.
“We amassed an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort, energizing
thousands of voters.”