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The Push for Same-Sex Marriage in Illinois

Rich Egger

Supporters of a same-sex marriage bill in Illinois (SB 10) are rallying the troops as state lawmakers prepare for the final week of the veto session.

The groupIllinois Unites for Marriage has organized phone banks to target state representatives who’ve not made up their mind or who have not announced how they will vote.

I didn't want to be sitting on the sidelines when something this important was going on.

zOne such phone bank was held in Macomb at the home of Brian Powell and Molly Selders. About 12 volunteers helped out. They included teachers, farmers, and retirees.

“I think what really unites the people here tonight is that they think this is a matter of justice. And they’re willing to give up a couple hours of their evening, give up their time, in the name of justice,” said Powell.

The volunteers started by calling voters in the district of State Representative Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville), who has not publicly stated if she will support or oppose the bill. Their goal was to find 30 voters willing to be transferred to Hatcher’s office and leave a voice mail in support of marriage equality.  The met that goal after about an hour.

The volunteers’ own lawmaker, Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), has already said she will vote against the measure.

“I vote – not just on this bill but on any piece of legislation – the will of the majority of my district,” said Hammond. “Generally my district, which is all or part of eight counties, is four-to-one in opposition of it.”

The Illinois Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day. The measure has yet to come up in the House as Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) works to ensure there is enough support before calling it for a vote.

John Curtis of Macomb, who helped organize the phone bank, thinks the legislation is long overdue. He considered marriage equality a civil rights issue.

“I know my grandfather was very active in civil rights legislation. And this is our time. This is our time to stand up for the civil rights action of our time. I didn’t want to be sitting on the sidelines when something this important was going on,” said Curtis.

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to meet Tuesday through Thursday, November 5 – 7. It’s possible they could also meet for a few days in January before starting a new session.

If a same-sex marriage bill is not approved by then, supporters will have to start all over again in both the House and the Senate – during an election year for many lawmakers and the state’s six constitutional officers.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.