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Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Illinois Senate

Illinois State Senator Heather Steans today introduced a marriage equality bill in the Illinois Senate:

Illinois "The bill would provide for state recognition of same-sex marriage, while ensuing that religious institutions are not required to perform any marriages that inconsistent with their religious practices.  This is a companion bill to the one introduced in the State House of Representatives by Representative Greg Harris, HB178.  The House bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Deb Mell, Sara Feigenholtz, Constance Howard, Harry Osterman and John Fritchey.  Equality Illinois applauds the sponsoring legislators for their leadership."

Said Bernard Cherkasov, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois: "This is not an issue of sacred versus secular - there are plenty of synagogues and churches that both recognize and perform same-sex marriages. Rather, marriage is a civil right – plain and simple.  The state cannot have a civil institution of marriage – with its plethora of benefits, rights, and responsibilities – and exclude from it an entire class of citizens."

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  1. So does anyone know the political climate in Illinois? Does this have any chance of passing and will the Gov. sign off on it?

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Oct 1, 2009 6:33:17 PM


  2. I remember a civil union bill (this one?) receiving some consideration in IL this year but then it kind of seemed to drop off the face of the planet. What happened with that, what is the relationship between that bill to this one?

    Posted by: mcc | Oct 1, 2009 6:43:46 PM


  3. My bet is that both bills will die in committee and will never come to the floor of the General Assembly. If a miracle happens and they do, it would be a miracle if they were to pass both houses--particularly since legislators are only in Springfield for the fall veto session, which is likely to be taken up almost entirely by trying to find some kind of agreement on the state budget, and coming up with a fix for the fact that around a third of Illinois college students are looking at the calendar and wondering whether they're going to be able to afford to go back to school in the spring, since the state has no money left in its financial assistance program.

    For the same reason, I'm not sure Quinn would sign the bill if it landed on his desk. He's getting primaried for governor next year, and the Republicans are deciding which wingnut they're going to anoint to run against him. Given that Quinn's already unpopular for having told (some of) the truth about the mess that is the state's budget, I don't really see him going out that far on a limb this close to an election year.

    Posted by: Michael | Oct 1, 2009 6:52:58 PM


  4. The people who push these bills have got to stop calling it "same-sex marriage" and start calling it "marriage" or "civil marriage" or "marriage equality." The point is that it is NOT a different kind of marriage and not something new.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Oct 1, 2009 7:04:37 PM


  5. I suppose I should say something?

    Let me answer the questions first.

    @Brian in Texas- It varies. Remember that Chicago is not all of Illinois. There's a wide varience in the politics ranging from pragmatic progressivism to Talibangelism (though the Talibangelism is nowher near as bad as California). Both political parties here are basically fucked up (the Rethugs are still recovering from the George Ryan mess and the Blago drama still lingers.

    Gov. Pat Quinn did say that he would sign the civil unions bill (more on that in a minute) if it reached his desk and I believe he would sign a marriage equality bitt that reached his desk.

    Unlike California, there will be no binding referendum here in Illinois. The next time a request for a Constitutional Convention will be on the ballot is 2018, I believe.

    On the civil unions bill, there was so much other drama going on with the budget (complete with Rethug shennanigans) that it never came up for a vote in the full General Assembly. MCC. the civil unions bill and the marriage bill are two different bills, either one or both could make it out of committee.

    My prediction: We will get civil unions out of this process for now and marriage equality before the 2016 Olympic Games (whether they are in Chicago or not).

    Oh, I believe the White House is willing to help with the civil unions bill. With marriage equality...well, you know...

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Oct 1, 2009 7:06:45 PM


  6. There is no way in hell that Obama is helping, or will help, with civil unions in Illinois or any other state. Let's be honest.

    And the civil union bill does not need to go through committee anymore. It's ready for a vote whenever there are enough votes for it.

    Posted by: Chicago88 | Oct 1, 2009 7:16:45 PM


  7. Michael/Kev, thanks for the explanations.

    (Not that it matters, but I should note that the cryptic "this one?" in my previous post was a flubbed attempt to link to a blog post about SB 1716...)

    Posted by: mcc | Oct 1, 2009 7:28:38 PM


  8. @Chicago88

    Note that I explicitly DID NOT say Obama. That was Valerie Jarrett's specific job, particularly in securing votes with legislators representing the black community.

    The civil union bill DOES need to go through a committee in the Senate; it did go through committee in the House. Greg Harris did attempt to do a quick run around of the regular procedure in the Senate as the budget crisis was at it's peak but failed.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Oct 1, 2009 7:49:04 PM


  9. @Michael

    Quinn has already stated he would sign a civil union bill that would hit his desk. For marriage, as you, the picture is murkier.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Oct 1, 2009 7:56:15 PM


  10. For the record, Democrats have wide majorities in the IL General Assembly and hold every IL Constitutional office and yet they still cannot get anything done on this subject -- be it marriage or civil unions, etc.

    Further, Illinois is a moderate Republican state, and there is fairly significant support (compared to most states) in the Republican caucuses for civil unions.

    In short, Chitown Kev can try and blame it on "Rethugs", but it isn't accurate. Illinois doesn't have much of a hard-right wing of the Republican Party. Only one wing-nut has been elected statewide in the last 50 years as Gov or Senator, and that was an accident because he was rich and ran against Carol Moseley-Braun.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Oct 1, 2009 10:36:38 PM


  11. Which committee will these bills have to go through? Which senators/house members are on those comittees?

    Posted by: Springfield | Oct 1, 2009 10:55:08 PM


  12. @LincolnLounger-

    You think Peter Fitzgerald was a wing-nut? I don't and neither did the national Republicans. Also remember that former Governor Jim Edgar (a Republican) actually ran ads against the call for a Constitutional Convention on the 2008 ballot. So you are right about the moderate nature of the Republican Party in Illinois (hell, Judy Barr Topinka is pretty gay supportive)

    The truth is both parties are pretty fucked up right now in Illinois. We would probably have had civil unions if it wasn't for all of the Blago drams.

    As with anything in Illinois, this will probably come down to what goes on the backrooms of Springfield and what Mike Madigan can get out of the deal.

    It is good to remember that the real parties in Illinois are not Republican and democrat (for the most part), they are Machine and Populist.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Oct 2, 2009 11:17:39 AM


  13. @Lincolnlounger: Yes, we have wide Democratic majorities in the General Assembly. We also have wide Democratic majorities in the U.S. Congress. However, in both cases, it is a mistake simply to equate "Democratic" with either "gay-supportive" or "progressive." Particularly in Illinois. The City of Chicago is a great big deep blue dot in a sea of mostly purple, shading toward deep red the further south from Chicago and its environs one goes. There are Democratic pockets around the major cities, true; but the farm country is still pretty reliably Republican. And many of the Democrats in both legislatures would be better categorized as moderate Republicans--and thus will be of little help on truly progressive issues like marriage equality.

    And while it has historically been true that Illinois Republicans have tended toward moderation (Chitown Kev rightly points to Peter Fitzgerald, Jim Edgar, and Judy Baar Topinka--at least before she teamed up with that DuPage County idiot in her failed gubernatorial bid last time out), the wingnut fringe has been on the rise--and has largely dominated the official power structure of the Republican Party for the last several election cycles. Just consider the field of candidates in the last gubernatorial election: five-time loser James Oberweis (or, as I usually refer to him, Überweiß), Bill Brady (who will try again next year), Ron Gidwitz (another reasonable guy who teamed up with total wingnut Steve Rauschenberger as his #2 to appease the ultra-right faction without which he would have finished even lower than third in the primary). And let's not forget Joe Birkett, Alan Keyes, and some of the other sleazy types that have been anointed by the Republicans in recent years. People like Edgar and Topinka are looking increasingly out of place, while the wingnuttiest are looking right at home in the Illinois GOP.

    Posted by: Michael | Oct 2, 2009 1:05:36 PM


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