As Illinois nears the deadline for a final vote on its marriage equality bill, more state lawmakers are declaring support for the legislation.
The latest to do so is state representative LaShawn Ford, whose district covers part of the west side of Chicago and the suburb of Oak Park.
"When you think about the moral issue, this is about advancing opportunity, the opportunity for all people to pursue life, liberty, and happiness," he told the Oak Park Wednesday Journal in a Memorial Day interview. "As Democrats we are about opportunity, about including people, not excluding."
He said he has great respect for Rep. Greg Harris, the bill's chief sponsor, and for the LGBT rights movement generally. "What really turns me is how the gay and lesbian community has taken a page from the civil rights movement," Ford said. "I respect the hard work, the tenacity, the fortitude, the organization of the gay community in pursuing this. This should remind the African-American community what hard work [on political issues] does. This will go down in history as an example of how to effect change in the world."
The state Senate passed the marriage equality bill Valentine's Day, but the measure has yet to come to a vote in the House. The legislative session ends Friday, and Harris says he will bring up the bill by then. Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign it.
Today the Chicago Tribune, the state's largest newspaper, ran an editorial saying the "time has come" to pass the bill.
"It would affirm the bedrock values of traditional marriage," the editorial reads in part. "It would reward committed relationships, promote stable families and safeguard the interests of children with same-sex parents. And it would keep government out of the intimate affairs of its citizens." It goes on to list all the states that have made history by enacting marriage equality, concluding, "Illinois, your chapter is next."