Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today said he hopes state lawmakers send him a gay marriage bill when they meet again in January, but even the measure's sponsor is unsure the issue will rise to the top of a busy agenda.
“I hope that bill goes forward,” Quinn said when asked about the possibility of the measure being passed before new lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 9. “It’s the House that probably the key arena at this time, and I think we’ll see how the members look at that issue. They should study it carefully and vote their conscience.”
Quinn’s comments on same-sex marriage came during a roundtable with reporters at the Chicago office of Bloomberg News, where the governor reiterated the need for lawmakers to act on pension reform during the waning days of the legislative session. The timing is important, as lawmakers who aren’t returning to office are more likely to vote in favor of controversial issues.
Rep. Greg Harris, the chief sponsor of the gay marriage bill, said he was encouraged by Quinn’s comments but acknowledged the issue may take a back seat during the lame duck session.
“At this point, we will call it when we have the votes there,” said Harris, D-Chicago. “We can see the trend of public opinion having shifted dramatically… but it takes time for legislators to figure that out. And there are a number of other key votes, pensions is obviously number one among them.”
Harris helped shepherd through a measure allowing civil unions for same sex couples during the lame duck session two years ago, and argues it’s no longer a matter of if same sex marriage will be legalized in Illinois, but when.
“People all around the political spectrum have thought about this issue and said there is really no good reason that we shouldn’t treat one family in Illinois differently or with less respect than we treat another,” Harris said.