Three days after the Illinois House of Representatives failed to take a vote on the state's gay marriage bill, a group of the legislation's leading sponsors on Monday issued an public apology addressed to same-sex families and advocates for the bill statewide.
"We want to extend our sincerest apologies to the families who rushed to Springfield in the waning hours of session to support equality in anticipation of this historic vote," the statement read. "You have been and continue to be our inspiration and we pledge to fight together until we achieve full equality for all Illinois families."
"But let's not forget something very important: Marriage equality is going to happen," the statement also noted.
Among the 16 state legislators who signed onto the statement was its chief sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, who has been the subject of scrutiny by many same-sex marriage advocates in the days since the state House shocked observers by not taking up the marriage bill prior to the spring legislative session's Friday adjournment.
One op-ed penned by Windy City Times publisher Tracy Baim called on Harris to step down as the bill's chief sponsor after he declined to call a vote on the measure though he had said he "absolutely" would do so in interviews in the days preceding the session's end. About 100 people gathered in Chicago's Boystown district on Saturday night to also protest the lack of a vote, which Harris attributed to some House colleagues asking for more time to discuss the issue with their constituents.
Though the marriage bill will likely not be considered again until the fall veto session in November, House Speaker Michael Madigan signed an extension of the bill, which now has until August 31 to be passed by the House, ABC Chicago reported. As Gov. Pat Quinn may call a special summer legislative session, there is a small chance the bill could be considered -- and advanced by the House -- then. Gov. Quinn has repeatedly vowed to sign the measure.
While the bill's failure came as a disappointment to marriage equality advocates who hoped to see Illinois overcome its last remaining obstacle toward becoming the 13th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, others celebrated the measure's failure to come to a vote Friday.
Bishop Larry Trotter, co-chairman of the African American Clergy Coalition, applauded members of the Illinois House Black Caucus who "show[ed] extreme courage in their defense of traditional marriage in Illinois." Trotter's church -- as well as the Catholic Conference of Illinois and the anti-same-sex marriage group the National Organization for Marriage -- were among the groups who lobbied heavily against the bill's passage.
"Pastor James Meeks, Bishop Lance Davis and I are so proud of the God fearing Black Caucus members who withstood the pressure of the LGBT forces and allowed God's word concerning marriage to remain between one man and one woman in Illinois," Trotter's statement read, according to the Tribune.
Meanwhile, Laurie Higgins, of the anti-gay marriage Illinois Family Institute said, according to the Washington Times, “In a liberal state like Illinois, this is a truly remarkable victory."
For his part, despite some calls for him to step aside, Harris has vowed in multiple interviews since last Friday to continue to press on for the bill as its chief sponsor.
“I understand there’s a lot of anger,” Harris told CBS Chicago. “But the anger has to be channeled as it has been in New York when there was a setback and other states when there were setbacks, into passing this legislation.”