04/16/2012 02:36 pm ET

Illinois Gay Marriage: Bill's Sponsor Says Votes 'Aren't There' For Passage This Spring

The principal proponent of legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois recently admitted that such a bill is not likely to become a law yet this year.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), one-third of a trio of openly gay legislators who earlier this year introduced the same-sex marriage-legalizing Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he would "never say never. [But] I don’t think there will be a push before the end of this session."

He further noted to the Chicago Phoenix that, with many new state lawmakers having taken office since the state's civil union law was narrowly approved by the General Assembly in 2010, much work lies ahead to discuss the legislation with those members of the Illinois statehouse because the votes currently "aren't there."

"They call it a struggle for equality for a reason," Harris told the Phoenix.

Harris has twice before introduced marriage equality bills in Illinois and previously said that the passage of such legislation was "not going to happen quickly."

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, despite supporting civil unions, earlier this year stated that he was not sure if he supports marriage equality and would need to study the matter further. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel minced no words asserting that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal statewide.

Marriage equality opponents in Illinois have also been hard at work in their efforts to forestall same-sex marriages in the Land of Lincoln. Last September, the Catholic Conference of Illinois announced the formation of its Defense of Marriage initiative. According to the Sun-Times, the initiative came up well short in their attempt to collect the 500,000 signatures needed to place an anti-gay marriage referendum on the state's November ballot.

While the state's civil union law was widely seen by LGBT advocates to be an important political victory toward granting many of the same rights and responsibilities to same-sex spouses as heterosexual couples within state boundaries, marriage equality has long remained the end goal.

Last month, a new report found that legalizing gay marriage in Illinois would give the state's struggling economy a much-needed boost.

To date, six states, plus Washington, D.C., currently offer marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Voters in two states -- North Carolina and Minnesota -- will consider state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage at the polls this November.