Following news that Illinois state lawmakers are planning to call a vote on marriage equality next month, a group of organizations on Thursday announced their formation of a new coalition that will push for an affirmative vote on the matter.
According to a news release, Illinois Unites for Marriage will "be wholly focused on securing legislation giving same-sex couples the freedom to marry in early 2013" in the Prairie State. The coalition is being organized by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and, thus far, comprises some 30 member organizations.
"The momentum is undeniable -- allowing same-sex couples to marry is the right thing for Illinois," Jim Bennett, regional director of Lambda Legal said in a statement. "It's best for our state that our government treat all families with equity and respect. Nine other states now have full marriage equality. It's time for Illinois to act."
The new coalition was announced two days following news that a number of groups opposed to same-sex marriage are also joining forces in preparation for the battle ahead. Calling themselves the Coalition to Protect Children and Marriage, the group includes the Illinois Family Institute and Illinois Citizens for Life PAC. The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which actively opposed the successful passage of the state's civil union law, is not a part of the group, though its leaders have recently reiterated their opposition to marriage equality.
State Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans, both Chicago Democrats, last week said they will be seeking to legalize gay marriage in Illinois during the state General Assembly's upcoming lame duck session and described a "yes" vote as "within striking distance." Harris has previously said he would not call a vote on the issue until he was assured he had enough votes for approval.
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