Springfield, IL, May 31, 2013

Today Friday, May 31, 2013,  the Illinois General Assembly ended its current session without passing SB10, which with the Governor's signature, would have made Illinois the 13th state to enact equal marriage rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Now the bill will have to wait until fall 2013.

From Gay Liberation Network
"House Speaker Mike Madigan, the de facto leader of the Illinois Democratic Party, is responsible for this abject betrayal," said Andy Thayer, long-time equal marriage rights activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.  "Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House – if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed. 

"People should remember this when Mike Madigan's daughter runs for the governor next year, which appears to be all but certain.  And people should remember that it was Madigan's ally, Representative Greg Harris, who pledged repeatedly to bring the bill to a vote by today, and then broke that promise. 

"It's not like this was a politically difficult vote.  The latest poll, by Crain's, shows that advocates for equal marriage rights in Illinois out-number our opponents by a nearly two-to-one margin.  The Senate passed it and Governor Quinn repeatedly pledged to sign it, but the real power broker in Illinois couldn't be bothered.  Speaker Madigan has repeatedly shoveled millions of tax dollars to his wealthy cronies, leaving the state's finances in a total mess, but when it comes to passing civil rights legislation, he refused to spend any political capital."

From John Knight, director of the LGBT Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:
"We are disappointed that the Illinois House failed to act on Senate Bill 10, approving the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples across the state. We are most distressed for the thousands of couples across the state whose lives and families deserve the dignity and recognition of marriage. We will continue to speak with legislators about the vital need to extend the freedom to marry for these couples. Our litigation filed a year ago this week also continues.  

"We had hoped that Illinois would become the 13th state to approve the freedom to marry today. It did not happen, but we will wake up tomorrow prepared to continue the fight for fairness and equality in Illinois. This effort has been advanced by hundreds of volunteers and advocates. We are confident it will move forward to success." 

From James Esseks, director of the national ACLU LGBT Project:
“Although today’s events in Illinois are disappointing, we will keep fighting. The movement towards fair marriage laws is gaining momentum all across the country. It may take a bit more work with people of good will, but it’s only a matter of time before the freedom to marry comes to Illinois.”

From LAMBDA LEGAL 
At the close of the legislative session the Illinois House of Representatives did not call for a floor vote or advance The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, the bill that would grant same-sex couples in Illinois the freedom to marry. Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Jim Bennett, Director of the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal: 

"This is a stunning failure in the Illinois House. 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. Lambda Legal has been working in the Midwest for the respect of our relationships for 20 years and we won't stop until same-sex couples in Illinois are treated with dignity and respect. 

"We'd like to thank Sen. Steans for passing this bill in the Senate.  We thank Rep. Harris, Rep. Cassidy and Rep. Mell,  who have worked so hard to see this through. However, it's unacceptable that our community did not at least get the vote Rep. Harris promised on the House floor.  We have a right to know where our elected officials stand on the fundamental right to marry the person you love.  We will continue to work with them to push toward passing this critical law as soon as possible." 

The momentum for the freedom to marry has been steadily building; in the past six months,  Washington, Maine, Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island have joined 9 other jurisdictions in granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry (Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington D.C.) President Obama and President Clinton have endorsed marriage for same-sex couples, and in Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have publicly supported marriage for lesbian and gay couples. 

Together, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois each filed lawsuits on May 30, 2012, representing a total of 25 same-sex couples from across the state of Illinois seeking the freedom to marry. Two days later, the Illinois Attorney General's office filed papers agreeing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The Cook County Clerk and States Attorney also agree that the marriage ban is unconstitutional. 

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin released the following statement:

 “The House of Representatives has neglected the rights of its constituents by failing to vote on marriage equality legislation.  For months, LGBT couples and their children have had their lives put on hold throughout an exhaustive political process that ultimately came up short. 

“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.

“We’re grateful to the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Greg Harris and state Sen. Heather Steans, for their leadership in getting us this far, and will continue to work with them and all of our allies in Illinois to ultimately achieve full marriage equality. 

“We have come so far over the last few months and this tremendous progress is thanks in part to the tremendous leadership of businessman and philanthropist Fred Eychaner, to whom our community is very grateful.”

 
 
 AN ANTI-GAY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST EXXON MOBIL WAS FILED IN ILLINOIS
 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Earlier this week, Exxon Mobil was charged with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act in a complaint filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.  
 
The complaint was filed by Freedom to Work, a national non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, which conducted groundbreaking testing to reveal Exxon’s discrimination against an LGBT job applicant. 
 
According to the complaint, two fictitious and nearly identical resumes were submitted for an Illinois-based job opening with Exxon.  The better-qualified LGBT-identified candidate was never called but the other non-LGBT candidate received three calls requesting an interview.  
 
A May 24th New York Times story about the case can be viewed here:http://nyti.ms/10S1eu6
A May 22nd AP story about the case can be viewed here:http://abcn.ws/10Yk9aW
 
 
 
Statement by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Edie Windsor lost the love of her life in 2009. They had been together for more than 40 years. They were partners and best friends. They shared everything and honored their responsibilities to one another. Yet, in the eyes of federal law, their marriage was viewed as separate and unequal.

Edie and her late wife, Thea Spyer, are two of millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans denied their fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with their families. When Thea passed away, Edie was billed more than $363,000 in federal taxes — because, under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government treated her and Thea as complete strangers, thereby denying them the estate tax protections afforded to married couples. 

With an unaffordable tax bill and an untenable system, Edie could not remain silent, and she decided to challenge DOMA as a violation of our Constitution. Thankfully, she is not alone.

Citizens across the country have risen up to challenge DOMA, and on Wednesday I will proudly join two of those Americans, my constituents Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, to hear oral arguments before the Supreme Court. They have the support of President Obama, who ordered his administration to stop defending this measure in our legal system, and members of Congress, who have signed amicus briefs reaffirming our belief in marriage equality.

The only national leaders still standing on the wrong side of history are House Republicans, who have used taxpayer dollars to pay outside counsel to defend discrimination. The Republican-approved lawyers have lost in every case and appealed each ruling. So the fight goes on.

Wednesday, Edie’s case will come before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, justices heard oral arguments on Proposition 8 — the measure that banned same-sex marriages in California.

In both cases, the justices will hear compelling stories of love, commitment and family. They will be asked to consider the individual facts of each argument alongside broader questions of DOMA and Prop. 8′s constitutionality. They will confront values and issues as old as our republic: matters of justice and civil rights, fairness and the role of government, equality and equal protection under the law.

The court’s conclusion must be firm and clear: DOMA and Prop. 8 are unconstitutional. Neither measure meets the standards of our founding principles. Both deserve to take their rightful place in the dustbin of history.

The proponents of laws against marriage equality have long known that such laws would not pass constitutional muster or withstand judicial review as demonstrated by their efforts to preclude judicial review. In 2004, the Republican-controlled House passed the so-called Marriage Protection Act to try to prevent federal courts from ruling on challenges to DOMA. They even claimed that the landmark case, Marbury v. Madison, was “wrongly decided.”

Their idea, known as “court-stripping,” betrays one of the cornerstones of our system of checks and balances: that our judiciary must be independent, free from manipulation by Congress and the president, so that our Constitution and individual rights are always safeguarded. Indeed, defending individual rights and equal protection are core functions of judicial review.

Those rights are at stake in the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases. It is clear that there is no legitimate federal or state government interest in discrimination. Under any standard or by any degree of judicial review, there is no justification for laws against marriage equality.

Both DOMA and Prop. 8 were enacted with motives ranging from “majoritarian prejudice or indifference.” Attempts have been made by proponents of these laws to justify them on erroneous and deeply offensive stereotypes. Yet prejudice — whether motivated by animus or indifference — does not make it right for LGBT families to be punished, stigmatized, or denied their rights.

By overturning DOMA, we will ensure that spousal benefits are provided to the husbands, wives and partners of LGBT service members and veterans. We will strengthen our economy by delivering tax deductions and employee benefits to same-sex couples, in the private sector and the federal workforce. By overturning Prop. 8, California can join the march of states across the country extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to LGBT Americans.

For Edie Windsor and millions like her, the journey has been long, hard, and defined too often by stigma, injustice and inequality. For all Americans, the fight for civil rights has been a defining cause for our country. With the Supreme Court’s action, that journey and that fight can once again bear the fruits of progress. We can bend the moral arc of history once more toward justice and secure a future of equality for all American families. Today, I hope justice prevails for Windsor and for all LGBT Americans.