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McCarter withdraws bill repealing gay marriage
by Matt Simonette

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State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said Feb. 21 that he was withdrawing a bill, SB 2637, that would have repealed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

The decision came after a federal judge ruled the same day that gay marriages could immediately begin in Cook County.

"The ruling is both disappointing and troubling," said McCarter in a statement. "Obviously disappointing because of the radical change to our culture that the same-sex marriage law ushers in and the fact citizens in general were given no adequate voice in the decision-making. The troubling aspect of this is that the law passed last year [contains] protections for religious institutions from being forced to perform and solemnize ceremonies. I am concerned that those protections, as flimsy as I believe they were when the law was passed, won't take effect until June 1, 2014. This puts our churches, wedding-related businesses and individuals at legal risk."

McCarter's bill, introduced Jan. 21, would have repealed SB10 and again defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Activists called it a sop to the senator's conservative base.

"This is an exercise in frivolity as far as I'm concerned," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda shortly after McCarter introduced the bill. "I think most people understand that in the current General Assembly this bill will not prevail."

Another bill, HB4263, introduced in the House by state Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, would broaden exemptions for religious facilities that are included in SB10. Harms' bill is currently waiting to be heard by the House Rules Committee.

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