State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon, Ill.), has introduced a bill seeking to repeal the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passed by the Illinois legislature in November and signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.
But marriage equality advocates say McCarter, who is seeking reelection this year, is just playing to his conservative base.
“Having lost the war, opponents to the freedom to marry now want to re-fight the battles and turn back the march of history and the progress of the state of Illinois,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, an LGBTQ Equality Rights Group.
“McCarter’s proposal to repeal the law may be more about appealing to his conservative constituents than an actual attempt to end marriage equality in the state,” said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who was the chief sponsor in the Senate of the marriage equality bill.
“He [McCarter] knows it’s not going to go anywhere. He’s just doing this to show his constituents,” said Steans.
Another bill, submitted by state Rep. Josh Harms (R-Watseka, Ill.), who is also seeking reelection, wants to expand on the exemptions already included in the law that protect religious institutions and members of the clergy from being forced to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.
“This is just politics,” said Civil Rights Agenda executive director Anthony Martinez. “It’s an election year in Illinois and whenever that happens there’s always legislators who introduce legislation that will really go nowhere, but appeals to their base and I think that’s exactly what he’s done here.”
“While we do not expect either measure to gain any traction in the legislature, these bills demonstrate that marriage opponents are not giving up and they’re not closing up shop in Illinois,” Cherkasov said. “And we will not allow candidates to use the LGBT community and our allies as punching bags in an election year.”