Despite nationwide momentum, encouraging polls and support from high places, the Illinois House of Representatives adjourned its legislative session Friday night without voting on a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
An emotional Rep. Greg Harris — the bill’s sponsor — rose to announce the bill wouldn’t receive a vote in this session as he pledged to come back with the votes to win in the fall.
Harris told his colleagues the he was unable to forge the 60 vote majority needed to pass the bill, so he and House Speaker Michael Madigan chose not to call a vote — a decision some advocates are criticizing.
“I’ve never been sadder,” Harris said as he addressed the body.
Illinois LGBT organization The Civil Rights Agenda was highly critical in a statement sent out moments after the session ended.
“This is what happens when you allow a multi-billionaire and national organizations that have no clue about Illinois politics and how Springfield works call the shots. Sometimes we get exactly what we deserve,” said Rick Garica, Policy Director and Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project for The Civil Rights Agenda. “High priced media consultants and high priced lobbyists don’t get it done. What gets the job done is real people standing up and speaking out and that was horribly absent from this process. Today is a new day. Rich guys are no longer going to drive this – we are. And we will have marriage equality in Illinois.”
“From the beginning, we have been upset about the lack of diversity and inclusion in this process,” said Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “Unfortunately the Sponsor didn’t include people of color in the sponsorship of the bill and the rich white guys from the north side of Chicago thought they could get it done with their checkbook. That was the downfall of this bill. We will continue to push and get this done.”
HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement “neglected the rights of its constituents by failing to vote on marriage equality legislation the Illinois” and called on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a nationwide ruling in favor of marriage equality.
“For months, LGBT couples and their children have had their lives put on hold throughout an exhaustive political process that ultimately came up short,” Griffin said. “Today’s inaction is a prime example of why the U.S. Supreme Court must rule in favor of full marriage equality nationwide to ensure the security and welfare of these and countless other American families aren’t left to chance in future political battles.”
Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, Marc Solomon said in a statement soon after the vote the result was a “disgrace.”
“After an overwhelming victory in the Senate, today’s failure by the Illinois House is a disgrace, especially for the thousands of committed same-sex couples who want and deserve to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family and spend the rest of their lives with the person they love, protected and supported by their marriage.”
The organization Lambda Legal already has a lawsuit pending in state court, Darby v. Orr, which aims to institute same-sex marriage. In a statement, Jim Bennett, Director of Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office, said that lawsuit would continue.
“This is a stunning failure in the Illinois House,” Bennett said. “This is too important to families across Illinois, and Lambda Legal’s lawsuit, Darby v. Orr which was filed a year ago yesterday will move forward. The day is coming when Illinois will have the freedom to marry.”