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Illinois Same-Sex Marriage Bill On Backburner

By Soyoung Kwak in News on Apr 15, 2012 6:00PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, celebrates civil unions in June 2011.
Back in February, we reported that Illinois State Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell, and Kelly Cassidy introduced HB5170, the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," which would allow same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois. However, the Sun-Times reports that representatives believe that HB5170 will take the back seat in the upcoming General Assembly session, placed behind more "pressing" issues such as approving the state budget and Medicaid.

One of the representatives who introduced the bill in February, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), stated that he is not confident that the bill will be on the assembly's plate ahead of fiscal matters. Although the debate for and against HB5170 might have to wait until next fiscal year, the introduction of the bill onto the floor will create time for healthy out-of-chamber debate. It is also how constituents were able to pass the the civil unions law last year:

[HB5170] was first introduced on Feb. 8 and, perhaps unsurprisingly during an election year in which fiscal issues have been front-and-center, remains pent up in the House Rules Committee.

But Harris, one of the three openly gay lawmakers in the House who filed the legislation, said introducing the bill fosters dialogue between lawmakers and their constituents and gives interested parties a chance to evaluate their positions.

This bill was introduced hot on the heels of the civil unions law that took effect last summer. The civil unions law proved to be monumental, as more than 1,600 couples in Illinois registered for civil union licenses within the first month. As stated in the Sun-Times, six states in the nation in addition to the District of Columbia have passed same-sex marriage bills.