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Lawmakers to reintroduce Illinois same-sex marriage bill Wednesday

By Tony Merevick| Chicago Phoenix
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The chief sponsors of legislation in that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois plan to reintroduce the bill Wednesday shortly after the start of the 98th General Assembly, according to one of its chief sponsors.

Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat and the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate, said Tuesday the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, will be simultaneously introduced in both the House and the Senate shortly after newly-elected lawmakers are sworn in to the legislature.

The move comes as no surprise to advocates and opponents tracking the bill, as Steans and its chief sponsor in the House, Rep. Greg Harris, previously said they will reintroduce the bill almost immediately upon the start of the new General Assembly after time ran out on efforts to bring the bill up for full vote during the 97th General Assembly’s lame duck legislative session, ending Tuesday.

Proponent advocate Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, confirmed the move was widely anticipated by TCRA and other organizations in favor and against the bill.

Martinez as well as Rick Garcia, a longtime LGBT rights activist in Illinois and TCRA’s Equal Marriage Project said they will continue advocating for the passage of the bill while they are on the ground in Springfield this week.

“We look forward to working with the new General Assembly and getting the bill passed very early on,” Martinez said.

Steans told Chicago Phoenix she is excited to bring the bill up for vote in the new legislative session and anticipates discussion on language of the bill among members of the Senate and the House as it moves forward.

In addition, Steans hopes Illinois will become the tenth state to approve the recognition of gay and lesbian marriages.

Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages. Three states — Washington, Maine and Maryland — approved same-sex marriage ballot measures in the November elections.

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