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Cullerton: Same-Sex Marriage Vote Could Come On Valentine's Day

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 2, 2013 4:00PM

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton
Advocates for same-sex marriage in Illinois may have reason to celebrate come Valentine's Day. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said Friday he wants to see a vote on the long-simmering legislation on that day and will call for the bill to be passed out of committee next week. Cullerton told the Sun-Times he believes he has the 30 votes necessary to pass the bill so it can move to the Illinois House.

The bill's chief Sponsor in the Senate, Heather Steans (D-Chicago) thought she had the votes for passage during the Legislature's lame duck session last month, but made crucial errors that wound up tabling the bill and having it tacked on to car rental legislation in order to sail through committee. Cullerton at the time said bipartisan support was needed for the bill to pass by the end of the previous legislative session.

Considering he and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan have veto-proof majorities in Springfield, he better be sure he has the votes before moving forward. Meanwhile, Steans and the bill's other chief sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), have been working on the bill to appease religious organizations concerned they would be forced to permit gay marriages at churches and religious halls deemed public venues, such as churches used for polling places. But even that won't satisfy religious leaders such as Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who issued a pastoral letter to his priests last month urging them to call on Chicago's Catholics to lobby against the bill.

“I think under the language we’re working on, everyone is a lot more comfortable there’s no threat of a religious place having to open up to a religious ceremony if they don’t want to,” Steans told the Sun-Times.