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No marriage equality vote in IL lame-duck legislative session

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Consideration of Illinois’s marriage equality bill seems all but certain to be pushed to the next legislative session beginning on January 9, after a push to pass the legislation during the lame-duck session fell short this week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  Even though the bill was considered and voted out of the Senate Executive Committee by an 8-5 vote, it seems unlikely that it will be taken up even if the Senate convenes on Tuesday for the last day of the lame-duck.

Nevertheless, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, Heather Steans, told the Sun-Times that passing marriage equality legislation is “totally a question of when we’re going to do it, not if we’re doing to do it,” adding that she’d been “assured [the Senate will] do it very early on in the next session.”  Senate President John Cullerton said that he was uncertain that he would call the Senate back into session on Tuesday, adding that he believed there would be “even more support” for the marriage equality measure in the next legislative session, when Democrats will hold a super-majority.

Plans to pass Stean’s legislation fell apart yesterday due to the absence of three senators who were expected to vote yes on the measure, putting it under the 30-senator bar for passage.  Sens. James Clayborne and Suzi Schmidt were each called away on family emergencies, and Sen. Jeff Schoenberg was on vacation in Israel.  In a demonstration of the lengths to which advocates were willing to go to try to pass the measure, marriage equality supporters asked Schoenberg to resign and allow his successor, Rep. Daniel Biss, to be seated and vote yes, but the plan fell through.

Also yesterday, identical marriage equality bills were introduced in both chambers the Rhode Island General Assembly, with Rep. Arthur Handy the key sponsor in the House and Sen. Donna Nesselbush the main backer in the Senate.  As of yesterday evening at 4:50, 42 of 75 House members had moved to co-sponsor the legislation, as did 11 of 38 senators, according to the Providence Journal.

22 Comments

  • 1. Bill S.  |  January 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    So the Rhode Island bill is essentially assured passage in the House, and we just need 8 more Senators out of the 27 Senators who have not co-sponsored. I live in Rhode Island and I have NOT been getting my hopes up (far too many old-school Catholics in the legislature)…but things are at least looking better.

  • 2. Bill S.  |  January 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Actually we would need 9 Senators. Only 8 additional Senators would be a tied vote and thus the motion would fail.

  • 3. Bill S.  |  January 5, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Actually actually, if the 11 co-sponsors does not include the original sponsor, then it might only be 8.

    We still have to keep in mind that the Senate President is opposed to marriage equality and will not bring a special vote to the floor on it. It must go through the Judiciary Committee like any other legislation, so whether or not it passes also depends on who happens to sit on the Judiciary Committee.

  • 4. Stefan  |  January 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    The makup is likely to be favorable for a vote on same-sex marriage based on earlier indications.

    Also there is one Republican who did not sign on as a co-sponsor but who is a supporter of the bill.

  • 5. GrantIonax  |  January 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    This is frustrating, mainly because the valiant effort put in by our side SHOULD have been enough to ensure a successful end result here. We had the backing of the governor, President, and a majority of the state who were in favor of extending equal rights to LGBT. The bill was more than generous in it's attempts to be considerate of bully religious institutions and clarify, then re-clarify it's respect for those institutions freedoms. Yet here we sit again; thousands of Illinois families and children denied, and made to feel like second class citizens…..all by virtue of the threats of Churches that demanded a demographic in Illinois stand in the back of the line "or else"….and sadly, the elected officials sided with the exploitative tyranny of such Churches, denying freedom, rights and respect to Illinois families across the state. Frustrating indeed.

  • 6. Stefan  |  January 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    What derailed it was the 3 absent Senators.

    I do hear though that they're still going to push in the next few days for a vote in the House, with a full vote to follow in the Senate if the House passes it. Regardless the work is already half done for the next session.

  • 7. Armando  |  January 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    In my opinion, the religious organizations (most prominently the Catholic Church leading the fight against equality) could have very easily had their arguments silenced. When their argument to extend equality under the law of the land to a segment of the tax paying population boils down to a Bible; it's unconstitutional. That Bible is only reflective of their standards and only applies to their rule book. When forced to apply to those who are non believers, then our freedom of religion and constitutional rights have been severely violated.

  • 8. grod  |  January 6, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Armando: Two other ways to think about the weight the Catholic Church should be given in leading the fight against equality is the proportional size its voice should be given, and the wisdom of its position. Catholics weddings represent 8% of wedding/year in the USA. In 2011, in Illinois, Catholic wedding make up 14% of that states weddings. So it’s understandable that its spokespeople think theirs is a voice to be heard. A secondary voice, I would suggest. As to what it might contribute, it is hard to believe that an organization in crisis about straight Catholic marriages should think it knows best about marriage equality for the rest of us. A secondary opinion at best, I would suggest. http://www.osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/8053/Exclusi

  • 9. Steve  |  January 6, 2013 at 8:00 am

    This is about civil marriage. Not religious weddings. Religious organizations shouldn't have any say in secular legislation. Period.

  • 10. Eric  |  January 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Especially, when they have done nothing to ban unbibical heterosexual divorce.

  • 11. Rich  |  January 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I think we should all be aware that a poster on NOM, "Tribune" by name, is calling for murder against us. Check out the post in connection to the Illinois marriage equality legislation. His post is reactionary to be sure but I don't know of any gay advocate who has ever called for physical harm, let alone murder, to those who oppose us.

  • 12. grod  |  January 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Armando: In an earlier thread, I posted a link to Archbishop George's recent letter, and called upon the LGBT Community to articulate a response.
    While not the Community’s response, the media have published at least three responses. I link two here, one that appeals to my rational self and the other that appeals to my emotive self. http://www.cjr.org/minority_reports/loaded_gay_ma… and http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/01/04/crap-of-th
    Both of these articles suggests that the LGBT community ought to publish a rejoinder.

  • 13. Lymis  |  January 5, 2013 at 7:03 am

    I think the LEGAL community should publish a rejoinder, followed in immediate succession by the progressive religious community.

    The LGBT community should be free to weigh in, but feeling that we should be the ones who are responsible for answering a blatantly inappropriate religious political statement trying to claim that civil rights are up for debate just buys into the idea that gay rights are in tension with religious freedom.

    The legal community should put the archbishop down hard, not on the "merits" of the argument, but on the basis that it has no place in the legislative discussion, and the progressive religious people need to stop rolling over and letting bigots speak for them.

    Both those responses should NOT be, "here's why same sex couples should be allowed to marry" but rather, "Here's why this guy should shut up and stay out of things that aren't his business."

  • 14. Eric  |  January 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Here's my response:

    The Cardinal said that consummation is a requirement of marriage, which directly contradicts Catholic teaching. If we follow the Cardinal's argument, Mary was either not a virgin when Jesus was conceived or Mary and Joseph were not married, take your pick.

  • 15. grod  |  January 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Lymis, reflecting on your comments, perhaps the LGBT group who should take-on the archbishop is Sash – Chicago in the style of their December statement: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/rainbow-sash-moveme…. That group is holding a demonstration tomorrow drawing attention to Cardinal George’s statements: http://chicago.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/artic
    G

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