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Illinois Gay Marriage Opponent Fears 'Eradication Of Marriage Altogether'

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Though supporters of same-sex marriage are cautiously optimistic that marriage equality could soon arrive in Illinois, opponents to such legislation are also mounting their own push in an opposite direction.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that state Senator Bill Haine, a downstate Democrat, is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would specifically define marriage in Illinois as between a man and a woman. A similar "defense of marriage" resolution was proposed earlier this year by a group of Republican members of the state House of Representatives but has failed to gain much traction.

The Illinois Family Institute, a Carol Stream-based group opposed to same-sex marriage and designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is also gearing up for a possible vote on the matter in the near future.

David E. Smith, IFI executive director, told the Daily Herald that he hoped state legislators would be "a little gun-shy of going forward with another social experiment" in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Smith added to the Post-Dispatch that he fears the goal of those pushing for marriage equality, "for some, is the eradication of marriage altogether" -- a claim that same-sex marriage supporters dismissed as "ridiculous."

Meanwhile, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates are undeterred in their efforts to bring marriage equality to the Prairie State, a matter that could come to vote during the current legislative veto session, or possibly early next year.

A number of gay and lesbian couples who are among the plaintiffs in a legal challenge led by the ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal traveled to Springfield Wednesday to urge state lawmakers to vote in favor of marriage equality.

"We want our lawmakers to know how important this is to our family,” said Anne Dickey, a plaintiff in the lawsuit said Wednesday, according to the Chicago Phoenix. “Whether it is through the courts or the legislature, we need the freedom to marry.”

Last week, state Rep. Greg Harris (D), the chief sponsor of Illinois' same-sex marriage bill, told HuffPost he is ready to call a vote in Springfield once he has the number of votes lined up required for passage.

Earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel commented that the "time for marriage equality [in Illinois] is now" as he named the issue among his top hopes for the state legislature's veto session, which began Tuesday.

It's been less than 18 months since Illinois legalized civil unions, allowing same-sex couples many of the same rights and responsibilities as those in opposite-sex marriages. But the law falls short of state-recognized marriage.

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