A coalition of advocates in Illinois are holding the chief sponsor of marriage equality legislation — himself a gay man — and the state’s House lawmakers to a promise they made in May to take a final vote on the bill next week.
In a new video released Thursday, the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition indicates that time is almost up on lawmakers to make up their mind on the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples, the intent of a measure on the table since January.
“I would say to the Illinois legislature, if not now, then when?” asked Kevin James, standing with his partner, Ryan Green. Marriage equality is in the hands of state lawmakers, who have the opportunity to make it right, another couple said in the video.
Currently, there are only three days of session scheduled before lawmakers adjourn for the year, leaving little time for an extensive debate on the measure, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. And advocates in the coalition are mounting pressure on Chicago’s Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, who is gay, and his colleagues to get the job done out of fear that it might be stalled until January.
Tepid support from some Democrats in the House fearing difficult primary election challenges next spring has stalled the bill since May.
On the final day of the spring session on May 31, Harris tearfully announced that his colleagues were unwilling to cast a vote on the bill until they return for the annual “veto session” this November because they needed more time to hear from their constituents on the matter.
“They have asked for time to go back to districts, talk to their constituents, and reach out to their minds and hearts and have told me they will return in November with their word that they’re prepared to support this legislation,” Harris said at the time. “We will be back and we will be voting on this bill, in this legislature, in this room.”
On Tuesday, the advocates delivered a petition to Harris with over 4,000 handwritten signatures, demanding he call the bill next week.
“I hope that my colleagues are paying attention, and I urge my colleagues to be ready to come back to Springfield next week ready to be on the right side of history,” Harris told BuzzFeed in the exclusive report. “… It’s just the right thing and Illinois needs to get this done.”
If amended to take effect June 1 of next year, the bill needs at least a 60-vote simple majority to pass in the Democratic-controlled House. The Senate already approved the bill on Valentine’s Day.