NEWS | Lisa Sergent
With the Illinois General Assembly’s session set to close on Friday, there is renewed effort to get representatives to vote on the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state by week’s end.
As the deadline approaches, supporters of SB 10, the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” are working the phone banks to urge the bill’s passage. The recent passage of same-sex marriage bills in Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island has also caused supporters in Illinois to increase pressure on state representatives. At the same time, Christians taking a stand for traditional marriage are urging prayer to stop the vote.
Meanwhile, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), told the Windy City Times he will “absolutely” call the bill to a vote before session ends May 31 and that it will pass. “When I put it up on the board, it’s going up to win,” he said.
There is some indication the lobbying may be working. On May 21, the Chicago Sun-Times published an article regarding how members of the 20-member Illinois House Black Caucus in the plan to vote on SB10. The paper tallied four yes votes, five no’s, five who are leaning toward yes, and seven undecided. However, La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), who was leaning toward yes, announced Monday he would vote yes on the bill.
Sun-Times Springfield bureau chief Dave McKinney tweeted Tuesday, “Rep. Greg Harris says he will call SB 10 for a vote by Friday, won’t indicate if Rep. La Shawn Ford’s prediction of 64 House votes is true.”
Previously, Rep. Harris has stated he would not call the bill to a vote on the House floor unless he was sure he had the 60 votes needed for it to pass.
The Chicago Tribune is calling on House members to “get it done.” An editorial published Wednesday said, “We won’t pretend this is an easy vote for everyone. But its time has come.”
Meanwhile, defenders of the traditional definition of marriage have pointed to the slowness in bringing the bill for a final vote as evidence that Illinois is more conservative than the 12 states that have already passed same-sex marriage laws. And they have continued a grassroots campaign to keep Illinois lawmakers from changing the law here. In an e-mail Wednesday, Bob Vanden Bosch, executive director of Concerned Christian Ministries, stated, “We believe that if they had the votes, they would have called it for a vote already.” He then asked supporters of traditional marriage to contact their legislators and urge them to vote no on SB 10.
If passed, same-sex marriages would begin 30 days after being signed into law. Gov. Pat Quinn has urged passage of the legislation and said he is ready to sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
Lisa Sergent is communications director for the Illinois Baptist State Association.