[EDITOR'S NOTE: Jan. 9, 2013 coverage at the link:
As of this writing, Illinois Senators may be voting on marriage equality as early as this morning (Jan. 3), after backers of bill changed course and tacked marriage equality onto another bill already scheduled for vote.
Illinois Senators will no longer be voting on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, a bill that LGBT leaders had been working for months to gain support on. Instead, the legalization of gay marriage had been added as a Senate amendment to HB4963, a bill that deals with automobile rentals and the Collateral Recovery Act, according to Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov.
The move comes after Senate Democrats failed to secure enough votes to waive a 24-hour rule on the posting of the bill Wednesday night. That could have delayed a vote on marriage a day or more.
The amendment is schedule for committee Thursday morning. A vote could come later today.
"Everything can change at a moment's notice," said Cherkasov. "It's still absolutely crucial that people contact their lawmakers."
Rick Garcia, policy advisor of The Civil Rights Agenda, expressed similar sentiments.
"It's a technical way for us to get the bill moving," said Garcia. "It's imperative that they contact their Senator today."
Senator Heather Steans, sponsor of the marriage bill, filed an amendment to HB4963 Wednesday. Steans is also sponsoring that bill.
The move means that LGBT families who had trekked to Springfield will not be testifying on the marriage equality as anticipated. Other testimony will likewise go unheard.
Backing the bill is Modern Family sitcom star Jessie Tyler Ferguson, who spoke at a press conference on his support for marriage equality.
"I can't imagine anyone who is fan of the show wanting to deny Mitchell and Cameron the opportunity to get married," he said of his character.
Check back throughout the day for updates.