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Civil unions legislation is now up for a vote in Illinois House

Civil unions measure moves forward in Illinois Senate with 6-2 vote Tuesday afternoon

Springfield, IL — A crucial piece of legislation, that could bring same-sex civil unions closer to reality in Illinois, is now up for debate and a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives. 

Openly gay Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored SB 1716, started his opening statement at 5:17 p.m on Tuesday. "Once in every generation," he said, "legislatures across the country have a chance to advance the cause of liberty and justice for all."

SB 1716, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act needs 60 votes to pass in the House. Supporters believe they have the necessary votes to pass the bill out of the House and on to the Senate, where quick passage is expected. 

Tuesday afternoon, an Illinois Senate committee advanced its version of the civil unions bill by a 6-2 margin. The upper chamber on the Senate would have to approve the legislation if it clears the House.

State Representatives Sid Mathias (R-Arlington Heights), Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines), Richard Myers (R-Macomb) and Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley) are out today. Proponents weren't expecting votes from Mathias and Myers.

As Harris pushes forward with the vote, he told CapitolFax.com that he'd like to have a bigger cushion. 

"We are just a few votes away in the House for victory," Equality Illinois public policy director Rick Garcia told ChicagoPride.com Monday night.

Equality Illinois and The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) continued to lobby legislators in support of the bill late Monday. Both advocacy groups returned to the Capitol Tuesday for the historic vote. Also in attendance in Springfield are Lambda Legal board member and Cubs owner Laura Ricketts, her partner and their baby.

Civil unions legislation is a moderate measure broadly supported by voters across the entire State.  An October 2010 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of likely Illinois voters shows 67.5% approve of civil unions or marriage for same sex couples, with only 26.5% opposing any recognition.

California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington have passed laws allowing same sex civil unions. Same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Iowa.
 
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