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15 Ill. lawmakers who backed marriage bill apologize to gay marriage advocates

15 Ill. lawmakers who backed marriage bill apologize to gay marriage advocates

CHICAGO — Backers of a measure that would’ve legalized same-sex marriage in Illinois have written a letter to advocates saying it’s not the time for them “to splinter.”

Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago, the bill’s sponsor in the state House, decided not to call a floor vote last week on a bill that would’ve made Illinois the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Harris, who said he didn’t have the votes but vowed to bring back the issue, was among more than a dozen Democrats who signed the Monday letter urging advocates to come together, assess strategy and ramp up efforts.

Dear Marriage Equality Advocates,

Like you, we are incredibly disappointed about what happened Friday in Springfield. But let’s not forget something very important: Marriage equality is going to happen.

As a community, we must come together, assess our strategy, and redouble our efforts in the fight for fundamental fairness. This is not the time for us to splinter – for that is exactly what our opponents want. The more united we are in the coming days and weeks, the sooner the bill will get passed – and the sooner our dream of full equality will become a reality.

We want to extend our sincerest apologies to the families who rushed to Springfield in the waning hours of session to support equality in anticipation of this historic vote. You have been and continue to be our inspiration and we pledge to fight together until we achieve full equality for all Illinois families.

Prior to the House adjourning on Friday evening, Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) quietly extended the bill’s deadline for approval until August 31 in the event Governor Pat Quinn calls lawmakers back to Springfield in the summer for a special session to address pension reform, which also was left without resolution.

The bill was approved in the state Senate in February, and Quinn has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality.

In addition to Harris, the letter was signed by Reps. Maria Anotia Berrios, Kelly Cassidy, Sara Feigenholtz, Laura Fine, Barbara Flynn Currie, Robyn Gabel, Naomi Jakobssen, Lou Lang, Robert Martwick, Deborah Mell, Christian Mitchell, Mike Smiddy, Ann Williams, and Sam Yingling; and state Sen. Heather Steans, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate.

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