News (USA)

Illinois marriage equality bill 12 votes short, says House Speaker

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A proposal to make Illinois the 10th state to allow gay marriage will face a “very difficult” reception in the Illinois House, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said Wednesday as advocates vowed to continue pushing for the legislation.

The state Senate passed a bill last month – on Valentine’s Day – allowing same-sex couples marriage rights. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would approve gay marriage if it comes to his desk.

Michael Madigan

But Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who backs the bill, said the legislation is 12 votes short in the chamber. The Chicago Democrat said he’s been contacted by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who opposes the idea of gay marriage.

Advocates of gay marriage have amped up pressure in recent weeks, gathering support from religious leaders and the business community. They’ve said it is a matter of equal rights and was a logical next step for Illinois, which approved civil unions two years ago.

“I do feel confident that the bill is going to pass the House,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. “We’ll leave the actual vote counting to the leadership.”

A main sponsor of the bill – Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris – said his tally differed from Madigan’s.

“We are closer than 12 votes, but we still have work to do,” he said.

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