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Illinois marriage bill introduced
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Wasting no time in the fight for equal marriage in Illinois, sponsoring lawmakers reintroduced legislation that would legalize gay marriage Wednesday.

That move came on the same day that new lawmakers were sworn in, the earliest possible time that sponsors could reintroduce the bill after it fell short last week.

Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Lambda Legal and Equality Illinois and bill sponsors announced the move Tuesday evening.

"No House or Senate member can deny the breadth of support and widespread belief that treating all Illinois couples fairly and equally is the right and responsible thing to do in Illinois," the coalition said in a statement. "Same-sex couples and their children cannot wait any longer."

The introduction of the bill comes after a rollercoaster week for equal marriage proponents. Sponsors had hoped to push the bill to a full vote in the final days of the General Assembly's veto session. But an absence of three supportive Senators stalled the bill, and the clock ran out of the measure.

Sponsors Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris have vowed to push the bill to vote as soon as they are able. LGBT leaders have stated that movement on the bill could come by early February.

Harris has predicted that marriage equality will become law in 2013.

"I think we will do it," he told Windy City Times. "We just need to redouble our efforts."

Steans echoed that sentiment in a statement.

"With the full support of Senate President John Cullerton, I am confident legislators will grant all Illinois couples the freedom to marry this year," she said.

The bill passed out of the Senate Executive Committee last Thursday by an 8-5 vote, a first for Illinois.

That success heartened LGBT advocates last week, but repeated stalls on the bill ultimately prevented it from coming to a full vote in the Senate or House.

The new bill is identical to the legislation pushed last week, the coalition said. That may not sit well with some religious groups, who argued in committee that the bill failed to adequately protect churches from performing gay weddings. Steans has countered that the bill keeps with pre-existing anti-discrimination law in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Sponsors and LGBT leaders have been strongly encouraging Illinoisans to contact their lawmakers in support of the bill.

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