Will Illinois pass SB 10, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

EqualIllinois Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday, November 5 for the final week of the annual fall "veto session." This past week there were dueling rallies in Springfield for those in favor of marriage equality for gays, and those who are opposed. Illinois Gay Marriage Bill's Fate Uncertain As Veto Session Begins.

SB 10, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, passed the Illinois Senate chamber on Valentine's Day earlier this year, but stalled in the Illinois House. There is a push for SB 10 to be called up for consideration in the Illinois House during this final week of the veto session.

With the Illinois General Assembly returning to Springfield next week, several mayors from cities and towns across Illinois signed onto a letter urging the Illinois House of Representatives to pass marriage equality during veto session. Illinois Mayors Join Together to Urge Legislators to Pass Freedom to Marry During Veto Session:

“As the chief executive officers or our respective communities, our
responsibility and guiding principal is to work with citizens and
businesses to encourage, create, strengthen, and sustain an environment
where everyone is provided an opportunity to succeed,” the letter reads.
 “Each day, we see same sex couples and their families who suffer
because they are denied the full protections of law, protections that
strengthen families.  These families cannot wait any longer for the
State of Illinois to respect their freedom to marry.”

* * *

The letter also comes at a time where every major newspaper
serving Illinois has endorsed the marriage equality bill, most recently
including the Daily Herald, the Rockford Register-Star, the Belleville
News-Democrat, the Springfield Journal-Register, the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch and the Quad City Times.

“Mayors for Marriage Equality is proud to lend their voice
to the growing chorus of citizens, faith based leaders, business
leaders, organized labor and others to provide same-sex couples with
equal access to status, benefits, protections, rights and
responsibilities of civil marriage,” the letter concludes. “We encourage
you to help add Illinois to the growing list of states that recognize
the freedom to marry, and unleash the economic promise and power of
inclusion and assimilation of all people by supporting the Religious
Freedom and Marriage Equality Fairness Act.”

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

The Chicago Tribune, a conservative newspaper, editorialized on October 23, 2013, Editorial: Time to vote on the future of marriage:

Illinois lawmakers who are still undecided about a vote to legalize
same-sex marriage should give great consideration to what has happened
in New Jersey in the last week.

* * *

A similar case is proceeding here in Cook County. Judge Sophia Hall
is hearing a challenge to Illinois' prohibition on same-sex marriages.
One key argument is that the law denies equal protection to same-sex
couples.

Hall has not signaled how she will rule, but in light of the U.S.
Supreme Court decision it seems increasingly likely that same-sex
marriage will become law in Illinois — either by legislative act or by
court order.

Lawmakers, don't wait for the courts. The legislative branch, rather
than the judicial, should be writing the fine points of this law. Make a
firm declaration that same-sex marriage is in the best interest of the
state and its residents because the law would strengthen families,
protect the interests of children and affirm personal freedom.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which has passed the
Illinois Senate, would allow same-sex marriage. It also would affirm
that religious denominations are not required to solemnize or provide
facilities for gay marriages.

Last February, the Illinois Senate approved the bill on a 32-24 vote.
The measure has been stalled in the House because sponsors haven't been
confident they have the votes to pass it there.

It's time for a vote. It's time to get lawmakers on record.

* * *

Under legislative rules, the bill in the House would require a
supermajority, 71 votes, to pass and be effective immediately. There is
another course: Amend the bill so it takes effect in mid-2014, which
would require a simple majority of 60 votes and another roll call in the
Senate.

Are the votes there? We hope so. We hope that in the weeks since the
U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, more
Republicans and Democrats have recognized this moment in history,
recognized the rapid shift in public opinion, recognized the basic
matter of fairness

No more waiting. Voters deserve to know where their lawmakers stand.

Illinois has its own unique brand of politics, and here is an "inside baseball" look at what is holding up SB 10 in the Illinois House from Andy Thayer, cofounder of the Gay Liberation Network. Will Dems leave gay-marriage backers at the altar again? (excerpts):

So what's the holdup for marriage equality in Illinois?

* * *

[The bill's lead sponsor in the House, is gay Rep. Greg Harris.] 

But let's be very clear. While Mr. Harris is the chief sponsor of SB10
and said "decisions surrounding this legislation are mine and mine
alone," he is not the main impediment to its passage. In fact, his job
is to take the blame for its failure, if it comes to that. I believe he
is the front man for the Democratic caucus on the bill and shields them,
especially Speaker Michael Madigan, from criticism for their failure to
enact the bill.

With his huge campaign war chest, ably abetted by
Illinois' infamously loose campaign finance laws, Mr. Madigan is
immensely powerful. He controls access to jobs, contracts, committee and
leadership assignments. His Democratic caucus members and most
community organizations are afraid to take him on and place blame where
it's due; it's too politically risky.

Mr. Madigan controls the
House, as surely as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel controls the City
Council
. His huge Democratic caucus has made mincemeat of any
opposition. Like it or not, and mostly not, that's the way politics
works in this state.

If Mr. Madigan is unwilling once again to
buck religious bigots in Illinois and fails to push through a vote for
marriage equality in the legislative session ending in early November,
an embarrassed and politically impotent Mr. Harris should resign his
seat in protest against his own Democratic colleagues, the same ones who
in May promised to "return in November with their word that they are
prepared to support this legislation."

By refusing to give political cover for their cowardice, he would be doing the honorable thing. He would be a hero.

Greg Harris must decide where his loyalty lies. If he puts his LGBT
community ahead of the Democratic Party and its leadership, he will
publicly call out Mr. Madigan and demand that Mr. Madigan muscle the
marriage bill through the House and thereby bring same-sex marriage to
Illinois.

He has a stark choice: Choose his party, or choose his community.

There is nothing quite like Illinois politics.

UPDATE: Rep. Greg Harris told the Illinois Observer to expect a vote next week. Harris Hints at Illinois Same Sex Marriage Vote Next Week:

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the measure’s chief House
sponsor, strongly hinted on Wednesday night that he plans to call the
bill for a vote during the last week of the fall veto session which
begins on Tuesday, November 5.

“I think my colleagues should be prepared next week to make history on marriage equality,” Harris told The Illinois Observer during his fall fundraiser in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

“I spent the day making calls on marriage,” Harris said. “I very happy.”

Another Democratic lawmaker contacted by The Illinois Observer echoed Harris.

“Greg says he’s calling the bill next week and that’s he got the votes,” said the legislator. “I don’t know who he has flipped.”

Harris’ comments on Wednesday come on the heels of other political
intelligence that surfaced earlier this week regarding House Speaker Michael Madigan and the marriage equality legislation.

The Associated Press is also reporting momentum on this bill. Momentum builds for possible gay marriage vote at Statehouse.

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