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Updated: Illinois marriage equality bill faces delays, but sponsors remain optimistic

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Updated at 11:15 a.m. Eastern to reflect new legislative strategy

The Illinois Senate committee vote scheduled for yesterday to consider a marriage equality bill has been postponed until today at the earliest, the Windy City Times reported yesterday, but its supporters in the state legislature remain positive that the bill’s chances of passage are still good.

The Senate Executive Committee had been expected to consider the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act yesterday night at 5:30 local time, but senators who opposed the measure pushed to enforce a Senate rule requiring bills to be posted for 24 hours before they are considered in committee.  In addition, the bill’s sponsors are working to get around a six-day waiting period so that the bill can be voted out of committee today and proceed to the full Senate.

Equality Illinois head Bernard Cherakasov said that there were not enough Democrats present yesterday to expedite the bill, but the Chicago Sun-Times reported that two more supporters of marriage equality, Senators Jeff Schoenberg and Emil Jones III, will likely be present today to move the bill forward.  The bill could be considered around 11 a.m. today.

The delay could mean that the bill would not receive a full Senate vote until tomorrow, since Senate rules require that a second and third reading of the bill happen on different days.

Despite the GOP-backed delay in the Senate’s consideration of the bill, equal marriage advocates in Illinois got some good news yesterday when Pat Brady, the Illinois Republican Party’s chairman, announced his support for marriage equality and urged his fellow Republicans to support the bill making its way through the legislature.

Brady noted that his announcement was made as a private citizen and outside of his official role in the state’s Republican party, saying, “I think it’s time for people to support this.”

Update (11:15 a.m.): The Windy City Times‘s Kate Sosin reports that Sen. Heather Steans, the chief Senate sponsor for the Illinois marriage equality bill, is now pursuing a different legislative maneuver to get the measure passed.  Instead of bringing up the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, supporters of marriage equality have attached an equal marriage rights amendment to another bill pertaining to car rentals.

The new strategy would allow the bill to be voted on as early as 11 a.m. local time today, and comes in response to the delay the original bill faced due to the 24 hour deadline mentioned above.  Bernard Cherakasov, head of Equality Illinois, told the Windy City Times, “Everything can change at a moment’s notice.  It’s still absolutely crucial that people contact their lawmakers.”

Because of the new strategy, testimony that had been planned in conection with the marriage equality bill will no longer be heard by the state Senate.  We’ll keep following this story as it develops.


  • 1. Mackenzie  |  January 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

    This is making me nervous! I know that it can get done next session as well, but what a great way this would be to start out 2013!

  • 2. Seth From Maryland  |  January 3, 2013 at 9:40 am

    any updates ?

  • 3. Seth From Maryland  |  January 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

    at 1:13pm EST, They are 'debating' an unrelated bill (a resolution congratulating a departing politician). Could be productively stalling while they await the arrival of the two missing Senators.

  • 4. Bob  |  January 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

    while I'm waiting and watching,,, just wanted to say,, the 113th congress is the most diverse ever,,, watched on the news,,, even seven from the LGBT community,,,, how long we waited during prop 8 to make some main stream news,,,, that's pretty big,,,,

  • 5. Kim  |  January 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    A Senate committee has passed the Marriage Equality Bill. It now heads to the full Senate

  • 6. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    […] equal marriage rights: Pat Brady, the chairman of the state’s Republican Party, announced his support for marriage equality early this month, for which he was criticized by state Sen. Jim Oberweis and […]

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