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Illinois has until end of week to approve marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

Illinois state capitol building
Illinois state capitol building

This week is the last chance for Illinois to send the marriage equality bill to Governor Quinn’s desk for his signature. The legislative session ends on Friday, and only the state senate has approved the bill. Last week, former President Bill Clinton added his voice to the calls for passage before the session’s end. The bill has been somewhat stalled in the state house while legislators count the votes. Sixty votes are needed there to ensure the bill becomes law.

Originally, the state house had set the deadline to consider senate-passed bills for Friday the 24th, but that date has been extended, and now the bill can be considered until the session’s expected end on Friday, May 31. The sponsor of the house bill reiterated his intention to call the vote:

Chief Sponsor Rep. Greg Harris told Windy City Times he will “absolutely” call the bill to a vote before session ends at the end of the month and that it will pass.

Harris reiterated that sentiment in an email to supporters May 24.

“There’s exactly one week left in the legislative session,” he wrote. “And let me make one thing clear: in the next seven days, we can — and we will — secure the freedom to marry.”

According to another report, the CEO of Equality Illinois agrees that the vote will be called this week, and that it will pass:

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, told that he was confident the bill would pass.

“The votes are indeed there. And I believe the bill is going to pass, but we’ve received no indication yet on when the bill would be called,” he said.

Illinois would be the 13th state to allow marriage equality (along with Washington DC) and would likely be the last US state to take up the issue before the Supreme Court issues its rulings in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor next month. And if, as expected, the Court issues a narrower opinion on the marriage equality issue, the only way for equality advocates to continue their winning streak would be to work on the longer term goal of repealing some of the marriage amendments in the 30 or so states where they were passed. The process is already underway in Nevada, and Oregon is expected to put a ballot initiative before the voters as well. But as Buzzfeed notes, without a broad Supreme Court decision, it will be tough to move forward for awhile.

What the Court says, if it reaches the merits of the two cases, could still impact some of the marriage cases still working their way through the federal court system. Lambda Legal is challenging Nevada’s ban in court, while Michigan and Hawaii’s bans are facing other separate challenges. If the Court doesn’t hold that there’s no standing in the Prop 8 case, whatever they decide could impact these other challenges, or even lead to more litigation in other states.

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