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.”