Could Illinois be the next state to grant full marriage eqality? That could happen if the Illinois General Assembly and the State Senate get their way, but it will not happen until 2013 at their earliest. The state (which I live in) got civil unions passed in January 2011 could try to go for legalization of same-sex marriage.
How will the religious right (groups such as NOM, Illinois State Baptist Association, Catholic Church hierarchy and their more conservative members, Evangelical/Fundie churches, Illinois Family Institute) react if this bill passes, or even gets to committee at all? They would claim that "Illinois' turning into Iowa East," "Illinois has been handed over to sodomites, perverts, and radicalized 'homosexual agenda' proponents," "This state will go down the path of immorality if this doesn't get stopped," "It'll lead to people marrying cats, dogs, turtles, computers, goats, cars, and other non-humans," and other homophobic nonsense by anti-SSM noisemakers.
Conversely, on the pro-marriage equality side, we hope this proposed bill passes so that Illinois will be a place for sanity, common sense, and decency prevail.
A group of Illinois legislators has started meeting with local LGBT groups to strategize on making marriage equality a reality in Illinois.
State representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell, Ann Williams, Kelly Cassidy, Sara Feigenholtz and Senator Heather Steans are in talks with Illinois organizations about introducing a bill that would allow same-sex partners to marry in Illinois.
According to Harris, the bill will not likely be introduced until at least 2013. Harris believes the fight will be difficult, especially as anti-gay political candidates work to bolster support for upcoming presidential elections.
"I do not delude myself into thinking this will be an easy process," Harris said. "But we need to take the first step."
A group of Illinois lawmakers have begun laying the groundwork for their latest push to bring marriage equality to the Land of Lincoln.
The Windy City Times reports that state representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell, Kelly Cassidy, Ann Williams, Sara Feigenholtz and state senator Heather Steans have begun meeting with area LGBT and progressive groups to talk strategy for a bill that could be introduced as early as 2013.
Harris, who was the lead architect of the state's civil union law granting many of the same rights and responsibilities to same-sex spouses as heterosexual couples within state boundaries, admitted to the Windy City Times, however, that taking the next step toward marriage equality will not be an "easy process."
For many LGBT advocates in Illinois, while the civil union bill becoming law in January 2011 was acknowledged as an important political victory, a discrepancy remains when it comes to full marriage equality. Because the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) remains on the books, many rights still elude even those same-sex couples living in states that legally recognize their relationships. And a civil union, they say, is not equivalent to marriage.
Opponents of marriage equality have also begun their work to block same-sex spouses from being married in Illinois. In September, the Catholic Conference of Illinois announced the formation of a Defense of Marriage department, which it said will fight any attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state and work to protect the "stature of the nuclear family -- which provides love, stability and confidence to children, as well as organization to society."
Illinois marriage equality bills have been introduced several times before, but have thus far failed to pick up much momentum. In 2007 and 2009, Harris introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which died in committee both years. In 2009, Steans introduced a Senate version of Harris's bill, the Equal Marriage Act, which also died in committee.
Such legislation would not be introduced until 2013, but with the entire General Assembly up for reelection this year, it is a crucial time to encourage support for same-sex marriage. Civil unions became legal in Illinois on June 1 and over 3,700 same-sex couples obtained licenses in the first seven months they were available.
Related news: Springfield, the Capital City of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County, reinstates Civil Union partner benefits.
LGBT advocates have convinced the Springfield, Illinois Joint Labor/Management Insurance Committee to unanimously reinstate health benefits for the civil union partners of city employees, a complete reversal of its December decision cutting the benefits because they were too costly.
The unexplainable numbers aside, the reversal is an important win for the elected officials and grassroots organizing that protested the original decision.
Expect mostly Democrats and even a few moderate-ish Republicans tp vote for marriage equality, whereas mostly Republicans and a handful of ConservaDems to vote against this.