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Illinois lawmakers to vote on marriage equality
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Illinois lawmakers could be voting on marriage equality in the coming weeks. State Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans have announced that they could be calling HB 5170 to a vote as early as next month, according to multiple reports.

Harris recently announced that he was considering moving the bill, which would overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, during the General Assembly's lame-duck session.

On Dec. 13, he announced that the time was right.

Same-sex marriage advocates believe outgoing lawmakers could be more likely to vote on the measure without fear of voter reprisal. Supporters of the bill already have the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Harris had previously stated that his calling the bill to a vote could depend on November election results. Sweeping victories for LGBT candidates and Democrats across the country encouraged marriage equality proponents in Illinois.

But Rick Garcia, director of The Civil Rights Agenda's marriage project warned that significant work remains before the bill can be called to a vote.

"Those last handful of votes that carry you to victory, it's like herding calves," he said. "Serious hard work still needs to be done."

Garcia urged LGBT supporters to call their lawmakers and ask friends and family to do the same.

Harris and others have cautioned that they will not call the bill until they are confident they have the votes to pass it, as doing so prematurely could lock lawmakers into "no" votes.

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