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Mixed reports of support for IL marriage, LGBTs confident
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

This article shared 2922 times since Mon Mar 18, 2013
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Delays on Illinois' equal marriage bill have raised questions about support for the bill, after the House adjourned March 15 without voting on the measure, but LGBT groups maintain that the bill will pass.

LGBT leaders had anticipated a vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act March 13-14.

Several were on the ground in Springfield in anticipation of action on the bill, but mixed reports suggest that sponsors might be struggling to come up with the last few votes to pass the measure.

House Speaker Mike Madigan told reporters earlier this month the bill is short 12 votes.

Reports from LGBT leaders in recent weeks, however, suggested that sponsors were close to securing the votes.

Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal said he did not personally have an exact vote count and could not comment on Madigan's statements.

But, he said, "I think we're exceedingly close."

Bennett said that delays passing legislation were common and that he is more confident than ever about the fate of the bill.

"Things have been moving forward the entire time," he said.

Bennett said that reps. previously seen as unsupportive on the measure have been asking to speak with supporters of the bill, a sign that the measure could pick up votes from Republican lawmakers.

Bennett did not rule out the possibility of a vote in the coming days but said a vote was more likely after representatives returned from spring break on April 8.

The House is in session through March 22, but that day is also the deadline for the bills to make it out of committee, which will likely consume attention in Springfield.

Sponsor Greg Harris has vowed not to call for a vote on the bill until the measure has the 60 votes it needs to pass. He previously told Windy City Times that sponsors were "very" close to having the votes.

LGBT groups have largely been mum on the vote count and reasons for inaction on the bill but have repeatedly urged supporters to keep pressuring wavering lawmakers.

Harris said that the timeline for the bill remains unclear.

Still, LGBT leaders say that legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois is not a matter of "if" but "when."

"Marriage will happen in Illinois," said Bennett.

LGBT organizers have continued to build support for the bill, organizing phone banks and targeting uncertain lawmakers.

LGBT groups have also brought couples and families to Springfield to talk with lawmakers. Bennett said that effort would continue and that advocates would be in Springfield every week until the bill passed.

Anti-gay efforts have increased recently as well.

Rep. Jeanne Ives made headlines for her comments on the Catholic Conference Radio Hour that gays were trying to "weasel their way into acceptability."

"They're trying to redefine marriage," she said, according to . "It's a completely disordered relationship and when you have a disordered relationship, you don't ever get order out of that."

Ives' comments did not sit well with her gay and pro-gay colleagues, who disparaged Ives' remarks on their personal Facebook accounts.

Rep. Tom Morrison (R-54) also drew attention for comments against equal marriage. published an exchange between Morrison and a constituent, in which Morrison said he opposed the bill because "bisexual individuals could argue that they ought to be permitted to marry both sexes at the same time."

Among those targeted by anti-gay groups was Rep. Luis Arroyo, a Democrat who voted for the bill in committee but said he could not vote for the bill on the House floor.

Supporters had attempted to push Arroyo towards a yes vote.

Jorge Felix, one of Arroyo's constituents reported receiving anti-gay literature from Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, an Illinois group with strong positions against LGBT people.

Arroyo told Windy City Times that he had talked with LGBT leaders and sponsors but that his vote was firmly against the bill.

"My vote is 'no,'" said Arroyo. "I voted for civil unions, and that is as far as I can go."

Arroyo said his constituents do not support the bill and have asked him to vote against it.

See related story, Representatives: How they stand on equal marriage in IL, here: .

This article shared 2922 times since Mon Mar 18, 2013
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