Illinois Senate Committee Approves Marriage Equality Bill (UPDATED)
January 3rd, 2013
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth confusion confusion. First, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would grant marriage equality to same-sex couples, was going to come up for a vote today in the Senate Executive Committee. But that looked like it would take too long for the bill to make it to the Senate Floor before the current legislature expires on Wednesday (January 9). So instead, it was decided that it would be attached as an amendment to another bill having to do with car rental agencies that was already on the Senate floor. That way, it could be voted on today. But then, two key supportive Senators were called away from the floor for family emergencies, so that wasn’t going to happen.
And that’s when NOM’s Brian Brown sent out this celebratory email:
We’ve just received word that Illinois Democrats have canceled plans to vote on same-sex marriage this week, unable to secure enough support to guarantee passage. Publicly, they’re saying that it’s just because some of their supporters are out of town, but we are hearing that your pressure is part of the reason legislators don’t want to vote on this issue.
There’s a long way to go, but suddenly same-sex marriage in Illinois isn’t as inevitable as everyone said. …Meanwhile, there’s plenty of work still to be done, and I need your help right now to keep the pressure on.
That pressure, of course, was money. Send him money. Lots of money:
We are calling on all GOP donors to immediately stop funding to the Illinois GOP, and to let the party know that you will be withholding any future donations as long as Pat Brady is head of the party. Instead, I would urge you to take those dollars that you would normally give to the Republican Party, and give them to NOM, or to one of the wonderful pro-family groups in Illinois fighting to defend marriage.
But while Brown was counting his Franklins, the Senate Executive Committee went ahead and approved the original bill by an 8-5 vote, setting up a possible vote next week, assuming the Senate comes back for a special session on Tuesday to take action on the measure.
Meanwhile, the House will be in session next week where it may go ahead and approve the House version of the bill.
Update: After examining the calendar and counting the available votes — several key legislators have already bugged out on vacation on the understanding that the legislative session had, for all practical purposes, ended — Equality Illinois has determined that it will not be possible to pass the marriage equality bill before the new General Assembly meets on January 9:
“We have come so far. Just to be able to witness the historic public debate over the desire of all loving, committed couples to be able to marry in Illinois is a major accomplishment. And with the landmark action by the Senate Executive Committee in favor of the bill, for the first time ever an Illinois legislative body voted to extend the freedom to marry. Never before has the issue gone this far in the Illinois legislature,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization.
“Our opponents should not believe they have turned the tide against the growing national and Illinois consensus favoring marriage equality. The clock simply ran out, and our legislative supporters ran out of time,” he said.
Equality Illinois believes that the next General Assembly will be more conducive to enacting marriage equality because that Assembly will include Democratic supermajorities in both houses.