Ill. House adjourns without gay marriage vote

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 03, 2013 4:52 PM
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) -- The Illinois House of Representatives adjourned for the session without voting on gay marriage Friday (May 31), an acknowledgement it lacked the votes to pass in what was a defeat for gay marriage groups after a string of victories.

Six states legalized gay marriage in the last seven months, including three in May alone. It was thought Illinois might join that list and become the 13th to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, but the bill never made it to a floor vote.

It had passed the Senate, 34-21, in February, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn had pledged to sign it. But despite Democrats having a super-majority in the House, the bill lacked the necessary support.

"This was the hardest thing I've done in my life," House sponsor Greg Harris said after pulling the bill, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Several House members, he said, asked him to hold off on bringing the bill to the floor so they could spend the summer talking to constituents. The bill could be considered again in November, the Tribune said.

President Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had called on the legislature to approve the bill.

Illinois already recognizes civil unions, which grant same-sex couples all the legal benefits of marriage, minus the name.

The Illinois Family Institute, which worked to defeat the bill, said in a blog post that "in a liberal state like Illinois, this is a truly remarkable victory."

"The failure of this bill is a good thing for children, for parental rights, for religious liberty, for the common good, and for truth," the institute said after the House adjourned.

The House's African-American members reportedly played a key role in preventing the bill from getting enough support. Of the 20 Democratic House members who are black, 11 had committed to support the bill.

Bishop Larry Trotter, co-chairman of the African American Clergy Coalition, released a statement applauding the caucus black members for "showing extreme courage in their defense of traditional marriage in Illinois."

"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 wrote, according to the Tribune.

Some groups had said religious liberty was at stake. The Thomas More Society, a legal group, had warned: "Law professors on both sides of the marriage issue agree that provides the worst religious liberty protections of any same-sex marriage bill in the country." The group urged legislators to add language to the bill ensuring that "individuals and organizations" could "refuse to provide services for a wedding if doing so would violate deeply held beliefs, while ensuring that the refusal creates no substantial hardship for the couple seeking the service."

Some supporters of the bill called on Harris to hand sponsorship to another House member. Tracy Baim, publisher of the Windy City Times, a gay newspaper, wrote that adjournment without a vote was an "historic failure with plenty of blame to hand out."

"Harris made promises he could not keep," Baim wrote. "... Harris should step down now as chief sponsor of this legislation. He has proven he is tone deaf to the wishes of both the grassroots and leadership of this community. They almost all called for a vote 'no matter what.' Instead, Harris chose to give cover to his political colleagues, rather than follow through on his own on-the-record promise to call for a vote by May 31."

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Read resources about the gay marriage debate:

FIRST-PERSON (Daniel Akin): Is it true Jesus never addressed same-sex marriage?

FIRST-PERSON (Glenn Stanton): Why not legalize gay 'marriage'?

If gay marriage is legalized, polygamy is next, briefs warn

Briefs: Religious liberty on line in marriage cases

Briefs: Gay marriage would harm children

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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