Gay-Marriage Supporters Turn Focus to Illinois; See Potential for 10th Victory

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gay-Marriage Supporters Turn Focus to Illinois; See Potential for 10th Victory


Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Gay-marriage supporters on the hunt for their 10th victory are eyeing Illinois as a likely candidate and several other states as strong possibilities.Nine states and the District perform and recognize same-sex marriages, while 30 states have voter-passed constitutional amendments against it.In Illinois, one of several states that offers civil unions to gay couples, Democratic political leaders, including President Obama, U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have urged state lawmakers to adopt gay marriage instead.Last week, an Illinois state senate executive committee approved a bill authorizing gay marriage. Due to the short, lame-duck schedule and missing lawmakers, however, proponents could not bring the bill for a floor vote.After the new Illinois legislature is sworn in Wednesday, We have to start from scratch and introduce a fresh bill, Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive of Equality Illinois, said Friday.The November elections gave Illinois Democrats supermajorities in both state chambers, and mathematically speaking, it would be definitely possible to pass the bill without Republican support, Mr. Cherkasov said.Previous gay-related laws, though, have been enacted with bipartisan support, and there will be strong efforts to win Republican votes for gay marriage, he said. In the recent Senate committee vote, Mr. Cherkasov added, the Republican minority leader said that while she couldn't vote for the gay-marriage bill yet, she looks forward to building bipartisan support for the bill. In Illinois, the House has 118 members, 71 of whom are Democrats; 60 votes are needed to pass a gay-marriage law. In the Senate, there are 59 members, 40 of whom are Democrats; 30 votes are needed to pass a law.Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, promised that strong, grass-roots opposition would continue against gay-marriage legalization efforts.Illinois Democrats are not in lockstep on this issue - at least six Democrats were vocally opposing gay marriage in the lame-duck session, said Mr. Gilligan We were able to articulate grave concerns about the legislation. So that's what we will continue to do, and we will hope and pray that lawmakers will see our side and we will be able to stop it, he said.Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Muslim, Mormon and other pastoral leaders representing 1,700 Illinois religious groups sent a letter Wednesday to all 177 lawmakers, asking them not to view marriage as an emotional bond between any two adults. Marriage between a man and a woman is the natural basis of the family, they said, and there is real peril that, under a gay-marriage law, individuals and religious organizations will be compelled to support it, in violation of their consciences and religious liberties.

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Gay-Marriage Supporters Turn Focus to Illinois; See Potential for 10th Victory
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