SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — All eyes are on the Illinois state Senate on Thursday, as lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a bill that would legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Illinois Democrats, who did not have the votes to pass the measure on the Senate floor during the lame duck session last month, are now in control of 40 seats, ten more than the 30 votes to move the bill forward.
If passed, the legislation then would go to the House, where Democrats also are in control. If the bill makes it to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, Illinois would become the 10th state in the nation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
With that scenario seeming almost inevitable, many Republicans are hoping the issue will be resolved quickly and quietly without doing the party too much political damage.
It remains to be seen whether any Republicans will vote yes on the Senate floor Thursday, and it’s likely some Democrats — particularly those from more conservative downstate districts — will vote no.
The bill was approved in a Senate committee last week on a straight party-line vote, with Republicans saying they had concerns it would force religious organizations to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their fellowship halls, parish centers or even in their sanctuaries.
Bishops in Illinois, led by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, also have said they oppose the idea as against the “natural order.”