Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Illinois

A marriage equality bill has been introduced in Illinois by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the Chicago Phoenix reports:

Harris“It marks the next step in our journey toward full marriage equality in our state,” Harris told Chicago Phoenix. “It’s not going to happen quickly, it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work.”

Harris, however, said that the bill was introduced today due to deadlines for new legislation, and that he has always worked to achieve marriage equality. Harris, who is openly-gay, has devoted his career to it, he said.

“They call it a struggle for a reason,” Harris said. “We all have to keep calling our legislators, talk to our religious leaders and work hard to make this happen.”

If passed, the new law would amend the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,  allowing the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage.

IllinoisOut lesbian lawmakers Rep. Deborah Mell (40th District) and Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy (14th District) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Writes Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov in an email:

We commend these leaders for taking yet another step towards full equality for lesbian and gay families in Illinois, and we are grateful to them for their leadership. This is just the beginning: the road to marriage equality is sure to be long, but it is one that we must travel together.

In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state – who are equal in love – are also equal in marriage.


  1. C.J. says

    As someone who is having their Civil Union in Illinois in August, I would love to see this moved up to full marriage equality. I am lucky that I work at a company that is supportive of it’s gay and lesbian employees, but I know of several people who have had Civil Unions that are having issues with their companies acceptance of Civil Union laws because they just don’t understand them.

  2. Matt says

    This could actually happen quite soon. The IL House, Senator and Governor are all Democratic. Also, it’s IL, so anyone’s vote can be bought (haha).

  3. ozu says

    I’m glad to see this happen in my home state but I’m not too hopeful. Even if it passes the legislature, our “separate but not equal” governor will probably veto it. He’s always maintained his opposition to marriage equality. Like our president, he not exactly in our corner – just kinda hanging out nearby.

  4. LincolnLounger says

    Democrats have controlled nearly everything for some time, but it remains nowhere close to happening. I’ll never understand this “all Democrats are our friends” mentality. Lots of conservative Democrats in Illinois who are every bit as opposed as conservative Republicans.

  5. Jack says

    I bet if you give the Illinois (R)s their concealed carry bill, they’d give us the marriage bill. I know downstaters who don’t give a rat’s ass if gays can get married. Give and take is political reality.


    @LINCOLNLOUNGER: Well, welcome to America’s two-party system. Unless you’ve got some alternative political affiliation that can actually be elected into a position to enact legislation, then you’d best swallow your hurt feelings and support the best option we have.

  7. irisgirl says

    VERY happy for this step toward equality in my home State—-in contrast to the horrific backward step I just read about by the death certificate issuers in Iowa, the place I spent my awesome college years!

  8. LincolnLounger says

    @Christopher, I don’t have any hurt feelings. What I wrote are the facts. I’m a Republican who would be very happy to have Illinois join the ranks of marriage equality; however, it’s a long time from occurring. My point was that Democrats could have made it happen a long time ago if that was their intent.

  9. Terry says

    I agree with Matt. This can actually happen. Like sooner rather than later. We’ve had civil unions since last June. And…fire didn’t rain from the sky, swarms of locusts didn’t sweep across the land, etc. I think people here are ready for marriage. The Dems control both the House and Senate. I very much doubt Governor Quinn will veto this.

  10. GeorgeM says

    do you work to over come the conservative votes in your state? do you live there?
    if you do do they have an amendment

  11. NY2.0 says

    It’s not like Illinois has a bully and bigot of a governor with “foot in mouth disease” as is the case in New Jersey.

    The Democrat governor of Illinois will sign this if it gets to his desk!

  12. says

    lincoln logger: so why didn’t any repubs introduce the bill? why only democrats? what have the GOP done for marriage equality in illinois? hmmm??

  13. Justin says

    As an Illinois native who has met Pat Quinn and followed his career, I believe he would sign a gay marriage bill. The real problem is getting the legislature to pass it. As I see it, if the Dems in the legislature did not get thrown out after Blago in the GOP year of 2010, then a little thing like a marriage bill is not going to displace them. However, central Illinois is like Kansas or Nebraska and southern Illinois is culturally Southern, akin to Kentucky and Tennessee. There are quite a few conservative Dems in the legislature from these areas.

  14. Ken says

    Governor Quinn is not the problem, I beleive he will sign the bill if passed. In my opinion he is similar to Gov. Lynch in New Hampshire, a cautious politician who has not openly supported marriage equality but has a good record on gay issues and will be on our side when he needs to make a choice. The key here is getting support from conservative down state Democrats or maybe some moderate suburban Republicans.

  15. Rob says

    And the key to getting our downstate reps to support it is accurate polling. The new reality is what I call “vicarious homophobia.” Individually, most people say, “Yeah, I’m fine with it, but I’m afraid Uncle Fred won’t be.” Then you ask Uncle Fred, and he’s actually fine with it, though may not proclaim it till asked. But he says, “I’m afraid Steve wouldn’t be okay with it.” State legislators know their constituents are religious and so feel they won’t be fine with it. The fact is, they are, and polls will show it. Time to poll, people.

    To the barricades!