The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Gay Marriage Bill Hits State Senate

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Oct 2, 2009 7:40PM

Photo from
State Sen. Heather Steans made headlines when she filed the Equal Marriage Act (SB 2468), a bill introducing the topic of gay marriage to the Illinois state senate for the first time, yesterday. "Separate is never equal," Steans said in an interview with "This issue has been languishing too long and nationwide the sentiment is in favor of protecting LGBT citizens."

The bill, which would allow the state to recognize same-sex marriages while still allowing religious institutions to forego performing marriages "inconsistent with their religious practices," has not come as cheery news to all. Jim Madigan, Steans' openly gay rival for the very-gay 7th District seat, criticized Steans for trying to out-gay the gay introducing the bill with only two weeks left in the legislative session and ignoring the progress of existing civil union legislation. Speaking to the RedEye, he referred to it as a publicity stunt to attract gay voters.

"If the civil union bill does not pass in the General Assembly in these final weeks of the legislative session, Senator Steans will have to explain to voters and to the LGBT community why she spent her time preparing a publicity opportunity rather than working to persuade legislators to pass the bill that was already teed up for her by two years of my community's time, money and effort," Madigan said in a news release. Indeed, the last we heard from Rep. Greg Harris' civil union bill this summer, it had failed to reach the House floor for a vote, following nearly two years of revisions, re-introductions and deadline extensions.

While it seems unlikely Steans' marriage bill will succeed where civil unions legislation has languished, it couldn't hurt to have the issue back up for public debate. That is, if political candidates can refrain from using it as ammo for the "who's the fiercest advocate?" battle. Seems a Steans-Madigan walk-off may be in order come primary season.