Illinois Marriage Equality Coalition to Seek Passage of Legislation in Early 2013 Under New General Assembly (1/3/13)


CONTACT:                                                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bernard Cherkasov, Equality Illinois - 312.520.4919

Erik Roldan, Lambda Legal - 312.545.8140

Edwin C. Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois - 312.201.9740, x305

Illinois Marriage Equality Coalition to Seek Passage of Legislation in Early 2013 Under New General Assembly

President Cullerton, Legislative Sponsors Confident Legislation Will Pass Soon as Senators Vote it Favorably Out of Executive Committee; Senate Absences Key to Strategic Move

CHICAGO – January 3, 2013 – With support building for marriage equality legislation – including an editorial from the Chicago Tribune and a statement from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin – proponents of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act announced today they would seek passage of the Act shortly after the 98th General Assembly is sworn in.

The legislation, which gives gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry, was voted favorably out of the Senate’s executive committee for first time ever Thursday.

The Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition – led by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois – had explored getting the Act passed in the last days of the 97th General Assembly. But with at least three supportive Senators absent, they decided to wait until the new GA is sworn in on January 9th, they said.

“Today, a few key Senators could not be here for family reasons. What’s important when we reconvene is that we work to protect and strengthen all Illinois families, and that’s what this legislation does,” said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago.)

“I’m confident we can advance this bill in the coming weeks,” Cullerton added.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, meanwhile, published a letter Thursday urging Illinois legislators to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

"I urge you to vote for Marriage Equality in Illinois so that our state can be part of the emerging national consensus on this issue of justice," Durbin wrote.

Also Thursday, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial calling on legislators to pass the Act and give gay and lesbian couples in Illinois the freedom to marry. 

“The General Assembly should waste no time making marriage equality a reality,” the Tribune editorial stated, adding that marriage equality is “good for kids” and “good for communities.”

Senate sponsor Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and House sponsor Greg Harris (D-Chicago) noted that support for marriage equality is building across Illinois, as it is in the country. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans believe gays and lesbians should have the freedom to marry, and polling shows a majority of Illinoisans likewise support it.

Just in the past few weeks, those declaring their support for marriage equality legislation in Illinois have included:

·      President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

·      Nearly 300 Illinois clergy and faith leaders

·      Several prominent African-American leaders

·      Business owners and executives

·      The editorial boards of the Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald, in addition to the Chicago Tribune

·      Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman

“More and more Illinoisans agree that if a gay couple wants to make a lifelong commitment to each other, the law should not stand in their way. They agree that same-sex couples and their families should not be treated differently or occupy a second-class status,” said Rep. Harris, the House sponsor.

“We are confident we have the votes to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” said Sen. Steans, the Act’s Senate sponsor. “If we’d had full attendance, we’d be passing this legislation today.”



For additional information, contact Eric Herman at 773.405.8124.


Illinois Unites for Marriage, a project of ACLU Illinois, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal
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