After three states passed marriage equality in rapid order, Illinois wimped out – some lawmakers in the house apparently told the sponsor of the bill that they needed more time to go back to their districts to build support for it. Keen news Service reports:
With the Illinois House just minutes away from adjournment Friday evening (May 31), the openly gay sponsor of a marriage equality bill announced that he would not bring the legislation to the floor. The reason, he said, was that some colleagues asked for more time to discuss the issue with their constituents. The representatives had more than three months to discuss the issue since the state senate passed the marriage equality bill in February. But the state house turned out to be a harder nut to crack.
How much time do they need? The state Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day, and since that time, three more states also passed it. Profiles in cowardice this week in the Illinois house.
The bill’s chief sponsor, openly gay Representative Greg Harris, gave a tearful address to the House explaining why gay and lesbian families in the state would not even see a vote on the measure. Towleroad.com reports:
Said Harris: “I apologize to the families who were hoping to wake up tomorrow as full and equal citizens of this state.” Harris was followed by openly gay Rep. Deborah Mell, who delivered a blistering condemnation of the bill’s failure.
Lambda Legal is stunned:
“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.”
HRC isn’t happy, either:
“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.”
Freedom to Marry also condemned the House inaction, as Gay Star News reports:
“After an overwhelming victory in the Senate, today’s failure by the Illinois House is a disgrace,” the group Freedom to Marry said via Twitter.
Members of the black caucus are having difficulty supporting the bill. The Chicago Sun Times reports:
Stubborn resistance within the House Black Caucus, a 20-member bloc of African-American lawmakers who have faced a withering lobbying blitz against the plan from black ministers, has helped keep Harris’ legislation in check, with several House members still undecided. “For me, there’s really no net gain for me one way or another. I’m hearing equally. Do I philosophically disagree? No, I don’t. But I would like to see absolute protections for churches and religious organizations so they’re not pushed into something they don’t want,” said Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood). “For me, [a decision] will literally be when the bill comes up and after I sit and listen.”… “The sense I have is blacks are tired of being lobbied or targeted. They’ve kind of turned back on some of the advocates and lobbyists and are asking, ‘Why don’t you get some Republicans?’” one high-level Democratic insider said Friday.
Sad, sad, sad.