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Illinois' renewed legislative push for same-sex marriage
By Kristen Horn
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois: Weeks after the November 2012 elections, Illinois state legislators are beginning a push for a same-sex marriage proposal to be put on the ballot for a statewide vote. The legislative push may occur as early as next week with supporters such as state representative Gregory Harris, backing the approval.
Illinois passed civil union laws two years ago allowing the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples to same-sex civil union couples, but did not legalize same-sex marriage. Supporter of the push for same-sex marriage to appear on the ballot, Randy Hannig, director of public policy for Equality Illinois, noted occasions where civil union rights have been misunderstood and stated, “No one knows what ‘civil union’ means, everyone knows what it means to be married.”
Harris and Hannig believe support for same-sex marriage has grown since the civil union laws passed two years ago and since the recent elections resulted with four states supporting same-sex ballot issues. Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington were the states in the November 2012 elections that showed support of legalization of same-sex marriage. Minnesota state voters defeated Amendment 1, which proposed to change their constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry while Maine, Maryland and Washington state voters approved ballots proposing same-sex marriage legalization.
Legislators and same-sex marriage advocates in Illinois feel that the results in these states have shown a change in attitude that could affect the outcome of defining marriage in Illinois.
In addition to the legislative push for the same-sex marriage issue, State Senator Bill Haine, who opposed the previous civil union laws, is currently pushing for a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman. This constitutional amendment needs to be on the ballot for a statewide vote to pass and go into effect, and could also change the push for legislative action regarding same-sex marriage.