May 31, 2013 at 8:16 am EDT | by Phil Reese
Last chance for Illinois marriage bill?
Greg Harris, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay state Rep. Greg Harris drafted the same-sex marriage bill — now in jeopardy — in the House. (Photo by Leah Jones via Wikimedia)

After a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples failed to come up for debate in the Illinois Legislature on Thursday, advocates are pinning their hopes on Friday, the final day of the legislative session.

“A vote has been promised, and now it is time to deliver on that promise,” said Jim Bennett, chair of the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, at a Thursday afternoon news conference, according to LGBT web publication, Chicago Phoenix. “We need marriage equality and we need it now.”

Illinois has been expected to join another 12 states and the District of Columbia in passing a same-sex marriage bill this year. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has signaled his eagerness to sign the bill into law, as well. However, the bill is now in jeopardy if the legislative session comes to a close without a vote.

In light of the urgency, three groups pushing for marriage equality in the state have called on supporters to push lawmakers on Friday, and plan a rally in the state capital of Springfield in order to press for a vote.

“We need you to join us for an urgent rally at the State House in Springfield tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.,” read a Thursday release from Lambda Legal, ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois. “Together, we’ll show the Speaker — and all our representatives — that we want a vote taken on the marriage equality bill before the House adjourns at the end of the day tomorrow.”

The three groups are calling on advocates to gather at the appointed time in the state capitol rotunda, and are offering free shuttles from Chicago to the state capitol for those who are unable to get themselves there, according to the release, as published by Windy City Times.

“Everything comes down to what happens before the end of the day tomorrow,” the release continues. “If a vote isn’t scheduled, we don’t win, and thousands of loving couples will continue being denied the protection and security they need and deserve.”

Last week, President Obama threw his support behind the bill in his home state, which supporters believed would help bolster support in the legislature.

John Becker, managing editor at the LGBT blog Bilerico Project, told Chicago Phoenix he called house speaker Michael Madigan’s office and received verbal confirmation of a Friday vote from a staffer.

“I decided to try to call Madigan’s office and I spoke to a male representative,” said Becker, who is also an LGBT rights activist and writer. “He said the vote will definitely happen [on Friday].”


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