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Marriage Equality No-Vote Caps Terrible Legislative Session In Springfield

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 1, 2013 4:00PM

Here’s what we know after the Illinois Legislature’s spring session ended Friday night:

- The state is no closer to solving its unfunded pension mess.
- Gaming expansion has been put on the backburner… again
- Illinois may no longer be the lone state without a concealed carry law.
- Gays and lesbians still can’t get married in Illinois.

While striking out on pension reform and approving more casinos in Illinois was expected—and you can bet Gov. Pat Quinn will take the fall for both instead of House Speaker Michael Madigan—it was the failure to bring SB 10, the marriage equality bill, to a vote on the House floor Friday that stung the hardest for proponents of same-sex marriage in the Prairie State.

Throughout the day supporters of SB 10 took to social media urging lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill, only to grow frustrated as the House session became a “lather, rinse, repeat” circle jerk of bloviating, parliamentary procedures and votes on other bills on the docket. The flagging enthusiasm was given a boost with the arrival of television camera crews to the state Capitol, including CNN, leading to speculation that SB 10 would come to a vote near the end of the session, in time for the 6 p.m. newscasts.

Then 6 p.m. came and went. State Rep. Greg Harris. (D-Chicago), SB 10’s sponsor in the House, entered the chambers without the smile he had on his face as he posed for photos with supporters earlier in the day, then broke down later when he stood and tearfully announced he would not bring the bill to a vote on the floor—Harris lacked the 60 votes necessary for passage.

In retrospect, this was also expected. SB 10, which breezed through the Illinois Senate in a Valentine’s Day vote, faced stiff opposition in the House from conservatives and African-American Democrats who didn’t want to incur the wrath of church groups in their districts. Harris kept his roll call closely guarded for weeks and it appears now that he did so in order to not disappoint supporters of same-sex marriage. But not even bringing the bill to a vote stings worse for supporters, who feel cuckolded this morning.

Robyne O'Mara, a supporter of marriage equality who took Friday off to be at the Capitol for the session, told the Tribune, "it felt like someone knocked me to the floor."

“The betrayed us,” O’Mara added.

Indeed. At least SB 1, the pension reform bill championed by Madigan, was shot down in the state Senate. While many supporters of the bill are blaming Madigan (and the Sun-Times cites sources as saying Madigan didn’t make the bill a priority), Harris said Quinn’s repeated claims there were enough votes to pass it didn’t help. Longtime LGBT rights advocate Rick Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda, told the Tribune SB 10 was doomed from the start because Harris didn’t have any black or Latino co-sponsors on the bill. “And the problem we have now was among the black caucus.”

The House did pass HB 183, which will make Illinois the final state to allow concealed carry of firearms, on Friday. The bill, a compromise worked out with the Senate, would allow gun owners to apply for a concealed carry permit for $150 with the Illinois State Police and undergo 16 hours of gun training—the most of any state in the nation. But it also retains home rule powers for Chicago and other Illinois cities with home rule laws. The bill excludes concealed carry on CTA and Metra buses, casinos, stadiums, schools, bars, parks and festivals, but would allow for carrying a gun in a car.