Chicago, IL —
Same-sex couples in Illinois are closer than ever to having the right to marry with movement coming in Springfield as early as tomorrow.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) told the Windy City Times
on Tuesday that she plans to bring the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act up for a hearing in the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday evening.
Steans said that if the bill gains approval she plans to call it to vote on Thursday, where it needs at least 30 votes before it can move to the House. Both the House and Senate have until Jan. 9 to pass a bill before the end of the 97th General Assembly and new legislators are sworn in.
"We are doing everything we can to see this passed out of the senate this week," Rick Garcia, of The Civil Rights Agenda
, told ChicagoPride.com. "Senator Steans and President John Cullerton are deeply commited to marriage equality and are pulling out the stops."
Momentum for marriage equality in Illinois began last month
when Steans and Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said that they will push for a vote during the General Assembly's lame-duck session.
In February Harris, along with two other openly gay representatives, Deb Mell (D-Chicago) and Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), introduced HB 5170, which would give gay and lesbian couples in Illinois the freedom to marry.
Gay rights advocates, including Garcia, are urging constituents to contact their lawmakers in support of marriage equality.
"It is critical, it is imperative, that everyone calls their senator's office today. Senators and house members are receiving calls from opponents. We must call, email, fax our legislators to ask them to do the right thing," said Garcia.
If approved, Illinois would become the 10th state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.
Continuing coverage on ChicagoPride.com with live updates on Twitter @GoPride
.Related: "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson lobbies for Illinois marriage equalityHow do your Senators stack up on marriage, Jan. 1, 2013
(Windy City Times
)On the web: Find your lawmaker contact information