The chief sponsor of the Illinois marriage equality bill declined to bring it to a vote today, the last day of the regular session, meaning no action will happen until November.
Rep. Greg Harris, who is gay, tearfully admitted he did not have the votes to get the measure passed in the House of Representatives, and said some colleagues who want to support it need time to go back to their districts and justify their support to constituents. He promised to bring it back up in November, during the veto session. "They have told me they will return in November, with their word that they are prepared to support this legislation," he said.
The Senate approved the bill in February, and Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign it.
Harris stood before the House chamber and pledged that he would be back with the bill. "I have to keep my eye, as we all must, on the ultimate prize," he said. He noted the measure had the endorsement of many local, state, and national leaders, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and the state's major newspapers.
He closed by quoting Abraham Lincoln, saying, "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."
Another gay House member, Deborah Mell, followed Harris's speech with a moving description of her relationship with her partner, Christin Baker. They were married in Iowa, but their relationship is considered a civil union in Illinois. "Today we were hoping that our state could give our union the highest recognition that our state gives people who want to spend their life together, and that is marriage," Mell said.
Watch the remarks of both below.
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