As the second portion of the Illinois legislature's fall veto session kicks in, activists and other supporters of same sex marriage equality have gathered, anticipating that a marriage vote may occur as early as this afternoon.
State Rep. Greg Harris, the bill's chief sponsor has regularly said that a vote would be called only the bill has the 60 votes it needs to pass.
"I never talk about roll calls and schedules," Harris told Windy City Times when asked if he would call for a vote on the measure the during the final days of veto session.
Recently, though, he has been dropping uncharacteristic hints that he would at least be pushing for the vote to take place this week. He said Oct. 30, for example, that his colleagues "must be prepared to make history" when they return to Springfield. On Nov. 4, he told his Facebook followers "he was heading to Springfield to get it done." On Nov. 5 he filed an amendment to SB10, indicating that he is preparing to deal with issues arising from the start date named in the original legislation.
"The work that has been done over the summer and the two weeks over the fall really has just made a huge impact on my colleagues," Harris told Windy City Times.
That could be good news for LGBT families eager to a see a vote in the coming days. In May, Harris told supports that his colleagues were not ready to vote for the bill, but said they vowed to return in the fall and do so. Since, however, he has declined to state whether he would in fact call for a vote during the veto session or wait until regular session resumes in January.
The first few days of the veto session, which took place Oct. 22-23, saw relatively little action from the House, though the State Capitol was that week host to the March on Springfield rally in support of same-sex marriage, as well as an opposing rally the following day. The third day of the veto session, Oct. 24, was cancelled.
Harris' colleagues also appear anxious to see a vote in November. Out lesbian Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a sponsor of bill, said she is not planning for the possibility of a vote shortage during veto session.
"I'm ready, it's time," Cassidy said. "I think that it's time. I don't even know how else to put it."
Rep. Sam Yingling, another out gay sponsor of the bill, previously told Windy City Times that he felt Harris should call for a vote on the bill and that he expected it would pass.
Sources close to the bill indicate that LGBT leaders believe they are closing in on 60 votes.
On Nov. 5, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth announced her support of SB10 in an editorial, writing that her decision was influenced both by the civil rights movement and her faith.
"I will vote for the legalization of same-sex marriage," Gordon-Booth wrote. "Many conversations over the last several months with constituents, clergy members, community leaders and legal scholars, only bolster my conviction that it is the right course for our state. Illinoisans should not wait for the courts to lead us. As with women's suffrage and civil rights, let us once again be at the forefront."
Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda said that some representatives, while supportive of the bill, would prefer to see the vote come in January, as they fear a "yes" vote on SB10 might inspire a primary challenge. But he added that many politicians had the inclination to "kick the can" indefinitely on controversial votes.
"Remember, though, we had 34 senators vote for this bill, and none of them had pushback from constituents," Garcia said. "Correctionone senator told me he had complaints from two people who did not live in their district."
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, House Speaker Michael Madigan has been speaking to members about the bill. Rep. Thaddeus Jones and Rep John D'Amico, both of whom have been undecided, said that they had met with Madigan about SB10.
But passing legislation in veto session will likely mean an important concession for supportersLGBT Illinoisans would have to wait until June before they're allowed to get marriedshould SB10 not receive 71 votes.
Veto session legislation that includes a start date prior to June 1 of the following year must be passed by three-fifths of the legislature, according to the Illinois State Constitution. SB10, as written, specifies that marriages begin 30 days after the governor signs the bill.
That specification means that SB10 is subject to a three-fifths majority. Without 71 votes in the House, an amended bill must be prepared specifying a start date of June 1, 2014, and it would have to pass both the Senate and House a second time. The amendment process is a routine procedure that will be done quickly, according to advocates, but supporters who'd been expecting marriage a month after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's signature would now have to wait until late spring. Harris' Nov. 5 filing indicates that he is addressing the issue.
Senate sponsor Heather Steans said she is confident that the amended bill can clear the senate a second time. The senate passed the bill in February.
"I haven't gotten anybody who wants to change their votes," Steans said. "If it passes in the House, we'll get it done over in the Senate."
Over the last several months, the political landscape of the marriage issue shifted dramatically, as the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. In late October, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Hawaii's Senate voted in its favor Oct. 30.
President Obama released a statement Nov. 1 endorsing the support for the Hawaii bill, echoing marriage-equality endorsements he's issued for other states. In December 2012, he weighed in on Illinois.
"As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so," White House Spokesperson Shin Inouye told Chicago Sun-Times. "Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally."
On Nov. 5, Gay Liberation Network issued a statement that it would be holding a rally at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7. The rally, the group said, would be either a celebration or a call for further action.
Final vote at link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/finalvoteonmarriage.pdf .