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Marriage committee hearing delayed, vote still expected this week
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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A committee hearing on a bill that would legalize gay marriage has been postponed at least until tomorrow, but that may not slow the bill's progress.

LGBT leaders had anticipated a hearing on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act Wednesday evening at 5:30 in the Senate's Executive Committee.

Sen. Heather Steans, sponsor of the bill, appeared in the committee room shortly before that time and reported that the hearing had been stalled. The bill had not been posted within the required 24-hour period. Senators could have waived that time requirement, but pushback from opposing Senators has delayed the process.

According to Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov, not enough Senate Democrats were present to vote to waive 24-hour rule. Three Democrats also voted against the waiver: James Meeks, Bill Haine and Gary Forby, according to Cherkasov. All have records that suggest they will likely vote against the bill.

Experts say the delay is not cause for concern.

"It's not really about the merits of the bill," said Cherkasov. "It's a procedural matter."

Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, echoed that sentiment and said that supporters should not be worried about the hiccup.

Lawmakers anticipate that enough Democrats will be present tomorrow to waive the 24-hour mandate.

It remains uncertain if the holdup will result in a delay of the vote, however. A vote was expected Thursday. Senate rules mandate that a second and third reading of a bill not occur on the same day. That could mean that a vote is not able to happen until Friday. But State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is sponsoring the vote in the house, said that the glitch will not necessarily result in a delay in the Senate.

The bill is expected to be heard Thursday at 11 a.m. A vote could happen Thursday or Friday.

Present for the hearing will be number of the plaintiff couples and children from the Lambda Legal and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuits seeking marriage equality. The couples are expected to testify.

LGBT leaders from Chicago organizations are present in Springfield. Among them are advocates from The Civil Rights Agenda, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and Equality Illinois.

Check back for regular updates and photos from Springfield.

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