Illinois same-sex marriage faces obstacles

2013-02-25T04:00:00Z 2013-02-25T05:18:22Z Illinois same-sex marriage faces obstaclesHannah Douglas The Quad-City Times
February 25, 2013 4:00 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD — The same-sex marriage measure that narrowly cleared the Illinois Senate last week might see more difficulty winning approval in the House.

Gov. Pat Quinn, during a stop in Normal on Thursday, acknowledged that the measure lacks the necessary 60 votes for passage. But he told reporters he plans to contact members of the House individually seeking their support, similar to what he did when he lobbied members to approve the civil unions law in 2010.

“There’s still persuasion to do in the House,” Quinn said.

The pending vote on gay marriage comes just two years after the General Assembly approved a law legalizing civil unions between same-sex couples. Of the 61 who approved the measure in the House at the time, just 36 remain. That leaves supporters needing to round up at least 24 more “yes” votes.

Many of the newer members of the House say they are opposed to gay marriage.

Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, was sworn into office just 12 hours after the lame-duck Legislature voted in favor of civil unions in 2010.

Not only would he have voted against legalizing civil unions, but he said he also opposes gay marriage.

“I believe marriage is a holy union between one man and one woman, and I’ll continue to stand behind that position,” Brown said. “I would say 99 percent of my constituency, those who have contacted me, is against gay marriage. My job is to represent my constituents and uphold what they believe.”

Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said she thinks legalizing same-sex marriage is premature.

“We’ve had civil unions, and it hasn’t even been two years,” Scherer said. “The purpose of the civil union was to give people in this situation the rights they felt they deserved. I think that needs to have time to go through the system before we go further.”

“I believe marriage is one man, one woman,” said state Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka. “It’s a very simple situation for me.”

Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Charleston, also is opposed to the proposal.

“There are no protections for anybody as far as pending or future lawsuits (from religious organizations),” Halbrook said. “And I’m just morally opposed to it.”

Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, one of four openly gay lawmakers who co-sponsored the proposal, did not indicate when votes will be taken in the full House. He said he is confident the measure will be approved.

“I think it will do very well, because I think we’re being very careful to be respectful of protecting religious freedom and also treating all Illinoisans equally under the eyes of the law,” Harris said. “This is an issue where people have strong feelings, so we need to educate people about both sides. We respect all religions in this bill, but we also respect all families in this bill. As soon as we explain those things, people will realize it’s a good vote.”

Not every freshman newcomer is opposed to the proposal.

“I will be a co-sponsor of the bill when it comes to floor of the House,” state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, said. “I believe it’s a civil rights issue that is paramount to getting fair treatment to same-sex partners.”

The proposal is next scheduled to go before the House Executive Committee on Tuesday.

The legislation is Senate Bill 10.

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