Chicago Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on Monday urged the Illinois state legislature to take one final step toward approving marriage equality -- and made it very easy for their constituents to contact lawmakers with that message.
On Monday, Emanuel e-mailed his wide network of supporters via a list built during his mayoral campaign and wrote, "The clock is ticking. The House is poised to vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the coming days. And I know from talking with several of my friends in Springfield that some members of the House still haven’t decided which way they’ll vote."
The message contained a link allowing recipients to send a message to their representative concerning the bill, which was approved in a House Executive Committee vote on Feb. 26. The bill was previously OKed in a vote of 34-21 by the state Senate on Valentine's Day, a vote that Emanuel's office celebrated by posting a pro-marriage equality Valentine on its Facebook page.
According to the Windy City Times, a full House vote is expected to take place by mid-March, but it remains unclear whether bill supporters have lined up the 60 affirmative votes they need in order to advance the legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has already vowed to sign it, and exactly when the
In an analysis last Friday, Chicago magazine counted a total of just 43 "definite yes" and "likely yes" votes in the state House, as well as 20 "toss-up" votes. If marriage equality is to become legal in Illinois, all but three of those "likely yes" or "toss-up" votes would have to approve the bill -- otherwise proponents would need to pick up some support in the largely Republican categories of "likely no" and "definitely no" votes.
In their calculation, the Windy City Times on Friday had 44 "yes" votes, in addition to 16 possible "yes" votes. While Democrats have an overwhelming majority in the state House, not all Democrats are not expected to be on board with the proposal -- including many downstate lawmakers. Only one Republican lawmaker supported the bill in the state Senate and the state's GOP chairman, Pat Brady, is currently the subject of an attempted intra-party coup for saying he supported the measure.
State Rep. Greg Harris, the bill's chief sponsor in the House, declined to disclose the bill's current headcount to the Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman and also did not offer further insight into when the vote will be taken -- but he added that "when I call this for a vote, it will pass."
Illinois has had civil unions available for same-sex couples since June 2011. If the bill is signed into law, the measure would make Illinois the tenth U.S. state to offer legal same-sex marriage.
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