Will Special Session Offer a Chance for Ill. Marriage Equality Bill?

Gov. Pat Quinn has called legislators back to deal with pension reform, but some wonder if they could address marriage too.

BY Trudy Ring

June 07 2013 2:39 PM ET

Illinois governor Pat Quinn

Illinois governor Pat Quinn has called a special session of the state legislature for this month, leading some observers to wonder if the state’s marriage equality bill will be voted on then.

Quinn yesterday called a one-day session for June 19, with the purpose of addressing funding problems for state employee pensions. But “could he also force a vote to extend marriage to same-sex couples?” asks New Civil Rights Movement contributor David Badash, while granting that it might be better strategically to wait for November’s veto session, in which legislators take care of various unfinished business items.

The marriage equality bill, approved by the state Senate in February, did not receive a vote in the House of Representatives by the end of the regular legislative session last week. Rep. Greg Harris, its chief sponsor, said he wanted to give his colleagues time to go back to their districts and build support for the measure before the vote, and that he planned to bring it up during the veto session in November. Governor Quinn backs the bill and has pledged to sign it.

Harris was choked up as he announced last Friday that he would not bring the bill to a vote. Anger, sadness, and recriminations have followed, with some activists saying Harris let LGBT Illinoisans down, others saying it was a smart move to avoid a vote on the bill if passage was uncertain. Anger at him and fellow legislators is such that a Chicago activist has initiated a Change.org petition seeking to prevent politicians from participating in the city’s Pride parade June 30. It has received nearly 2,000 signatures, but parade organizers say they have no intention of barring elected officials from the event.

The marriage equality bill’s sponsors this week issued an apology to the families who came to the state capitol in Springfield last Friday in anticipation of a vote on the bill, along with a promise that it will eventually pass. And grassroots LGBT activists have scheduled a strategy meeting for Tuesday evening in Chicago, Windy City Times reports. The paper also has a list of state legislators and where they stand on the measure.

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