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Breaking: President Obama announces support for marriage equality legislation in Illinois

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Some late-breaking news this Saturday out of Illinois: the Chicago Sun-Times reports that President Obama will publicly support an effort by Illinois state legislators to introduce and pass a marriage equality bill before the end of the legislature’s current session.  From the Sun-Times:

“President Barack Obama is urging the Illinois General Assembly to legalize gay marriage in his home state as lawmakers are poised to take up the measure as early as this week in Springfield.

“‘While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,’ White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.

“‘As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally,’ Inouye said.”

We’ve been following the marriage equality push in Illinois for several weeks now: in mid-December, the bill’s two chief sponsors, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris, announced that they would introduce the legislation in the current lame-duck legislature before the new body is sworn in on January 9, saying they were “within striking distance” of the votes needed for the bill to succeed.  The next week, Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois and the ACLU of Illinois announced they were partnering with a range of business, labor and faith groups to form a new coalition called Illinois Unites for Marriage for the express purpose of passing marriage equality in the legislature in 2013.

As the Sun-Times notes, President Obama’s move is likely intended to provide some political cover for Democratic state legislators from more conservative districts than Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.  Democrats hold majorities in both the Illinois House and Senate, but while the possibility of success for the marriage bill looks good in the state Senate, it is less assured in the House.

President Obama’s announcement comes after he publicly supported campaigns in three states–Maine, Maryland and Washington–to legalize marriage equality by popular vote in the November election.  In the past, he has also expressed opposition to anti-gay constitutional amendments such as the one that failed in Minnesota this November.  However, the president has seldom commented on state legislative politics as he has done so tonight.


  • 1. Bob  |  December 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Yeah!!!!! good news

  • 2. karen in kalifornia  |  December 30, 2012 at 10:20 am

    As it should be.

  • 3. davep  |  December 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Wow, this is very good news. And something like this would have been seen as impossible just a short time ago.

  • 4. Lymis  |  December 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Worried about some of those more conservative downstate Democrats. I hope the President's support tips the balance. This would be wonderful – and might set the stage for having marriage by the time the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA.

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