Illinois House to vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the legislative deadlock in the Illinois House of Representatives may be over and the House will vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act this week, with an amendment to delay the effective date until 2014. House could vote on gay marriage this week, with boost from Madigan:

EqualA key House lawmaker seeking to legalize
same-sex marriage remained cagey Monday about voting on his legislation
this week, but all signals pointed toward that — with perhaps the
biggest sign of all being House Speaker Michael Madigan’s heightened
involvement in the push.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the
lead House sponsor of the measure to permit gay and lesbian couples to
wed in Illinois, gave his social media followers a strong hint that a
long-delayed House vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness
Act may be imminent.

“Heading to Springfield to get it done,”
Harris posted in a status update Monday morning on his Facebook
account, as state lawmakers prepared to convene Tuesday for the final,
scheduled, three-day leg of their fall session.

Harris also dropped another hint over
the weekend that the tally was at a critical phase, telling his Facebook
followers that he was “counting votes and twisting arms.”

In an earlier interview with the Chicago
Sun-Times
, Harris said his bid to persuade House members to pass his
legislation was “moving in the right direction” and, in yet another sign
of a possible roll call this week, said “the time is now to make sure
people are treated with equality in Illinois.”

A concrete precursor to a vote this week likely would be a move by
Harris to tweak the bill so it would take effect next year instead of
possibly later this year. Doing so would lower the number of votes he
would need in the House to pass it from 71 to 60 but would require
backing from the Senate, which should not be a problem. As of late
Monday, Harris had not filed an amendment containing such a change.

But unlike in the spring, when Harris
didn’t have the votes to pass the same-sex marriage bill, Madigan
(D-Chicago) has been actively working over members to persuade them to
pass the legislation.

“I had a brief conversation with
[Madigan]. He was asking about the bill because he is trying to pass
it,” said Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-Calumet City), a member of the House
Legislative Black Caucus who’s among more than a dozen House members
still undecided on the bill.

* * *

Harris has been unwilling to divulge how
close to 60 votes he is, but gay activist Rick Garcia, who also is
helping to pass the measure, said, “We’re closer to 60 than we were even
three weeks ago.”

Garcia said there is “a very good
chance” Harris will seek a vote on the bill this week and that Madigan’s
involvement amounts to a “very significant” development in trying to
pass the legislation.

“We’re within striking distance. The
speaker isn’t going to make calls if we have 52 or 53 votes, right?”
said Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda. “The speaker
will make calls if we’re at 57 votes, you know? He’s not going to bring
10, but he can persuade a couple, and I think that’s what we’re going
to rely on.”

Madigan is not alone in trying to line up votes for Harris’ bill. Gov. Pat Quinn has done so, as has Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

* * *

A top mayoral aide described the head
count as “very, very close.” Another pegged it as “58, very close to 59”
in favor of gay marriage.

Opponents of the legislation think they
still hold the advantage. But they acknowledged Madigan’s involvement,
in particular, represents the single-most ominous development against
their effort to keep the measure from getting to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has
vowed to sign it.

“I think they’re short now, but that can
change in a heartbeat,” said David Smith, executive director of the
Illinois Family Institute, who led a Statehouse rally two weeks ago
against Harris’ legislation.

Information about the legislation is available at www.illinoisunites.org, along with information about how citizens can make their voices heard.

UPDATE: Buzzfeed reports Final Vote On Illinois Marriage Equality Bill Today:

The Illinois House will take a final vote on
marriage equality legislation Tuesday, a leading advocate tells
BuzzFeed. Previously, sources had said a vote would not take place until
Wednesday at the earliest.

“Today is the day,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda.

As
lawmakers began Tuesday’s session, Rep. Greg Harris, the chief sponsor
of the marriage equality bill in the House, amended its language to
change the date the legislation would go into effect, and to seemingly
reiterate exemptions for private clubs that do not want to host
marriages for same-sex couples.

The amendment, a major sign of
possible action on the bill, removes language containing the 30-day
effective date, which will allow Harris to pass the bill with only 60
votes instead of 71.

If passed in the House, the bill will be sent back to the Senate for a
vote. The Senate already approved the previous version of the bill
earlier this year.

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