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Advocates calling for "final push" on marriage bill
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2013-03-01

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A flurry of statements from lawmakers and advocates pushing for the passage of equal marriage in Illinois suggests that a final vote on the measure is likely fast-approaching.

Monday, March 4 has been slotted as a "day of action" for LGBT groups, with phone banks happening throughout the state.

Sponsors of the bill have said that they would not call for a full House vote until they had the votes secured.

Just days after the bill passed out of the House Executive Committee, LGBT leaders have begun emailing constituents asking them to support a "final push" on the bill. Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, had previously stated to a vote on the bill could come early in March but said that timeline depended entirely on securing the votes.

On Feb. 28, House sponsor Greg Harris wrote to supporters and told them he was willing to "put it all on the line" to pass the bill.

"The House vote on SB10 will likely happen any day now," Harris wrote. "Our opponents are working feverishly to defeat this legislation and we need your help to continue our forward momentum."

Harris called on backers to contact their representatives. Senate sponsor Heather Steans echoed that call.

"The vote in the House is going to be close, and we can't afford to lose a single vote," Steans wrote.

According to the Quad-City Times, Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters late last month that the bill did not have the needed 60 votes to pass. He said he would be calling lawmakers personally and asking for their support.

A Chicago Magazine analysis suggested that the bill had 14 definite "yes" votes and 29 likely votes. An additional 20 are up for grabs, the magazine said.

Windy City Times calculated 44 expected "yes" votes, with 16 that could vote "yes."

Sources suggest that sponsors are closing in on 60 votes, but the bill is also expected to face tough opposition.

Opponents have been rallying against the bill, and some lawmakers who backed civil unions appear to be hesitating on the marriage issue.

Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock, whose position has seemed unclear, was the target of a recent demonstration against the bill, said Richard Small, a gay constituent.

Small said that between 50-100 people picketed outside Franks' office during a mid-morning demonstration against same-sex marriage in late February.

Democrat Luis Arroyo, who backed civil unions and voted for the marriage bill in committee, said he was unlikely to vote for the measure on the House floor due to religious beliefs.

But activists anticipate support in expected places as well. They anticipate that some who voted against civil unions, including Republicans, could vote for the measure, as public opinion shifts rapidly on the marriage issue. In some cases, that has meant that LGBT groups are working on firming up votes in surprising places. That has LGBT leaders calling on supporters to push their representatives towards a "yes" vote, even if that vote seems unlikely.

Illinois Unites for Marriage is hosting "March Forth" events throughout the state on March 4. More information is available at: www.illinoisunites.org/events.

LGBT advocates are pressing supporters to call their lawmakers in support of equal marriage. See how representatives stack up at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/House-vote-last-hurdle-for-Illinois-marriage-equality/41744.html .


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