Gov. Quinn unsure of support for gay marriage bill

Wed. February 15, 2012 11:22 AM by News Staff

gov. quinn signs civil unions bill, january 2011

photo credit // anthony meade
Chicago, IL - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a strong advocate for gay rights, is unsure if he would support the marriage equality bill introduced last week in the General Assembly.

According to the Associated Press, Quinn said Tuesday that he wants to study issues surrounding same-sex marriage before

Quinn's staff confimed to Wednesday that the Governor is "looking to the Legislature to see what happens next."

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, filed last week by openly gay state Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy, would eliminate part of the state law that prohibits same-sex marriages.

"It is interesting that on the same day we learn that the Democratic party will most likely include full support of marriage equality in their platform, that we would be discussing the Governor's lack of support," The Civil Rights Agenda Executive Director Anthony Martinez told "The Governor has stated in the past that he was supportive of civil unions and has dodged the question of marriage repeatedly."

Martinez indicated that he is "pretty confident" the Governor will show support after he studies the bill.

"As the Governor continues to consider the needs of gay and lesbian couples in loving, committed relationships, I hope that he will become a champion of their full marriage equality," Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told

Cherkasov added that the Governor has been an advocate for same-sex couples, led the efforts to pass civil unions in Illinois and has fought to ensure that same-sex couples in a civil union receive all the benefits intended for them to receive.

"We believe in civil rights, and we believe in civil unions," Quinn said after signing the Illinois Religious Freedom and Protection and Civil Union Act last year. Civil unions became legal in Illinois last June.

Quinn strongly backed efforts to approve civil unions during his 2010 re-election campaign against Republican state Senator Bill Brady, who supported an amendment to the Illinois constitution banning same-sex marriage. Quinn narrowly defeated Brady and the gay community was credited with giving Quinn the edge in Chicago.

The Illinois Democrat has since come under increased pressure from conservative lawmakers and religious leaders, including the Catholic Church, for his support of civil unions and his pro-choice stance.

On Saturday, Quinn joined a number of other dignitaries at Equality Illinois' Justice for All gala in downtown Chicago, where over 1,000 guests celebrated the implementation of Illinois' civil union law.

"[The Governor] has publicly committed to supporting full equality for LGBT individuals and couples," said Cherkosav. "In the mean time, the challenge is for us in the LGBT equality movement to ensure that we build on the momentum for marriage equality and deliver the bill to Governor's desk as soon as possible."

Advocates for marriage equality say the November elections will be crucial for allies to LGBT community.

"We see that this issue is something that many elected officials are still 'evolving' on, including the President," said Martinez.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington state as well as the District of Columbia.