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Quinn: "The Votes Are There" for Civil Unions in Illinois

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Oct 8, 2010 4:20PM

In a conversation with the Daily Herald earlier this week, Governor Pat Quinn affirmed his optimism that civil union legislation will pass in Illinois by the year's end - a crucial deadline of sorts for LGBT activists as they look toward a gubernatorial race whose polls have continually favored Bill Brady, who staunchly opposes such legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

"The votes are there, I believe," Quinn said Tuesday. “In the Senate for sure, and definitely I think we can do it in the House. "I think we can pass it this year. I would like to see it voted on [during the fall veto session.]" Quinn also added that he would not stand in the way of a same-sex marriage bill if Illinois voters supported it.

Openly gay state Rep. Greg Harris has introduced legislation that would legalize civil unions and same-sex marriage each year since 2007, though the measures have yet to make it out of committee.

In a separate interview with the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board this week, Brady restated his opposition to authorizing civil unions for same-sex couples, saying he had "not found a reason" to do so. Though Quinn has made up some ground in recent months, most polls still show Brady maintaining a slight edge heading into next month's general election.

A small Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released in August found that a majority - 54 percent - of Chicagoland "heads of household" favored legalizing civil unions, while 42 percent were also in favor of same-sex marriage being made legal. On a statewide level, an Equality Illinois poll found, in 2005, that a narrow majority of Illinoisans were also in favor of civil unions. Considering recent national polling trends on the issue, it seems likely that level of support would be at least slightly higher today. Pew Research Center data released this week reported a five percentage point increase in support for same-sex marriage since 2009 and the highest level of support since the center began asking the question in 1996.