Springfield, IL -
With limited time remaining in the lame duck session, proponents of gay marriage Thursday night announced they will act on the issue in the new General Assembly that convenes next week, on Jan. 9.
After some initial setbacks and delays, a bill legalizing gay marriage in Illinois passed a lengthy hearing in the Senate Executive Committee on Thursday evening with an 8-5 vote to move the bill to the Senate floor. But with the lame-duck General Assembly poised to finish on Wed., Jan 9, Senate Democrats and advocates decided to regroup and wait for the start of the 98 General Assembly.
"We have come so far. Just to be able to witness the historic public debate over the desire of all loving, committed couples to be able to marry in Illinois is a major accomplishment," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois
, one of several groups pushing for marriage equality in the state. "And with the landmark action by the Senate Executive Committee in favor of the bill, for the first time ever an Illinois legislative body voted to extend the freedom to marry."
Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda
told the Windy City Times
that his group knew nothing about the decision until seeing a press release. Garcia was upset with the decision to back down.
"To throw in the towel now is a stupid maneuver," he said.
In a released statement Cherkasov said, "We are confident that the House and Senate sponsors, Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans, will successfully lead the bill to passage in the next General Assembly."
Expectations were high as gay rights groups had hoped to get legislation passed in both the House and Senate before the end of the 97th General Assembly; however, after procedural delays and the absence of three key Senators the Jan. 9 deadline became increasingly hard to hit.
If approved, Illinois would become the 10th state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.Related: Illinois gay marriage bill moves forward, but at a slower pace
(Recap of the week's events) Video: "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson supports marriage equality in Illinois