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Gay Marriage Battle is About to Heat up in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.— Despite urging from President Barack Obama in his
home state and fierce on-the-ground campaigning, a legislative measure
that would have made Illinois the 13th state to allow same-sex couples
to marry didn’t rally enough support from lawmakers in the House.

The
bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, gave an emotional
testimony before lawmakers, explaining that he simply didn’t have the 60
votes the measure needed to pass and wouldn’t be calling it for a vote.
For weeks, he’d been furiously lobbying his colleagues, including
members of the House Black Caucus.

(I know that artwork depicts California – but I thought it was fitting)

“Several of my colleagues have indicated they would not be willing to
cast a vote on this legislation today … and I’ve never been sadder to
accept such request,” he said. “They asked me for time to go back to
their districts and reach out to their minds and hearts.”

After a string of marriage equality victories across the
country, the legislature in Illinois has failed to deliver. With earlier
passage of the bill in the Senate, active support from the Governor, and
enthusiasm and energy from supporters in the House — same-sex couples in
Illinois were ready to celebrate their love and equality. 

But today, the House let us down.

On May 30, 2012, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois each
filed lawsuits
on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry.
Lambda Legal represents 16 same-sex couples and their children from across the
state. The couples have been together between 6 and 48 years, and 10 of the
couples are raising children. Barring same-sex couples and their children from
marriage is a violation of the Illinois Constitution’s guarantee of equal
protection and due process.

Denouncing what they
are calling the “Epic Fail / Epic Betrayal” of Illinois Democrats
failure to pass SB 10, the state’s equal marriage rights bill last night, gay
activists and their allies are calling an emergency response protest for 8 PM,
Saturday, June 1 beginning at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe Streets in
Chicago.


With a recent
Crain’s
poll
showing Illinoisans favoring the equal marriage rights bill by a
nearly two-to-one margin, and Democrats holding a huge majority in the Illinois
General Assembly, the usual excuses of pro-LGBT legislation being held up by
Republican conservatives didn’t hold water.
 
What should
have been a cakewalk instead became an epic fail.  Activists are denouncing what they say was a
consistent failure by the bill’s sponsors to reach out to other minority
communities and involve the LGBT community itself in messaging, and instead ran
a top-down corporate campaign such as has been responsible for previous epic
failures, such as California’s Proposition 8.
 
“House
Speaker Mike Madigan, the de facto
leader of the Illinois Democratic Party, is responsible for this abject
betrayal,” said Andy Thayer, long-time equal marriage rights activist and
co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network. 
“Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that
Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House – if he had insisted on a positive vote
from his caucus, it would have passed. 
 
“Speaker
Madigan has repeatedly shoveled millions of tax dollars to his wealthy cronies,
leaving the state’s finances in a total mess, but when it comes to passing
civil rights legislation, he refused to spend any political capital.”
 


Tonight’s
protest is sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network and the Civil Rights
Agenda.  For more information, contact
the Gay Liberation Network at 773.209.1187 or email
LGBTliberation@aol.com 


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