With a looming House vote as the last remaining obstacle to legalizing gay marriage in Illinois, activists on both sides of the issue are ratcheting up the pressure on state lawmakers.
Undecided lawmakers have been inundated with calls in recent days, according to the Windy City Times. State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Democrat, was the target of a Monday rally outside his Oak Park office, where demonstrators called on Ford -- who voted yes on civil unions in 2010 but has not stated his position on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act -- to vote in favor of the bill.
Groups opposing marriage equality in the state have amped up their efforts in recent days as well, with the conservative Chicago-based Family-PAC sending robo-calls out to voters urging them to tell state lawmakers they won't be reelected if they support the upcoming bill.
LGBT blog Good As You published audio from several of the recent robo-calls — targeting constituents of Rep. Mike Smiddy and State Senator Andy Manar — which slam the lawmakers for taking "homosexual money."
One call blasting Smiddy for taking $6,500 from LGBT advocacy groups says,
"Smiddy is threatening to vote in favor of the same sex marriage bill. Who is Smiddy representing? The Chicago homosexuals, or your family? Tell Smiddy to vote no on same sex marriage and return the homosexual money immediately."
Smiddy told DNAinfo he found the calls "bigoted."
State GOPers looking to stymie the measure went so far as threatening the oust their own party Chairman Pat Brady after he publicly supported gay marriage in January. A meeting set for last Friday to consider firing Brady was abruptly canceled after U.S. Mark Kirk and state House Republican Leader Tom Cross warned that such a move would be "a mistake."
A date for the bill's vote is not yet scheduled but is expected to take place any day now. If the bill achieves the 60 votes needed for passage in the House, which is generally considered to be more conservative than the Senate, it would next head to Gov. Quinn's desk for his signature. The vote is expected to be close.