Chicago, IL -
Gay marriage supporters in Illinois have announced the launch of a $2 million statewide campaign to legalize gay nuptials in Illinois.
The announcement comes after a marriage bill stalled in the House after passage in the Senate. Its champion in the House, Democratic Representative Greg Harris, who is openly gay, tearfully announced on the House floor his decision not to call the bill for a vote during the spring session but instead to wait until the fall.
Illinois Unites for Marriage said its new campaign includes the hiring of a campaign manager, a field director and a faith organizer.
"I'm excited to lead this already strong leadership team," said John Kohlhepp, the group's newly-tapped campaign manager. "Our expanded leadership structure brings together labor, political, community and religious organizing, creating a ground-game that directly engages voters to win the freedom to marry in Illinois."
The strategic plan also includes a coordinated House party engagement program, and a social media component. Its field program is made up of 15 organizers placed throughout the state, whose mission will be to engage directly with voters and legislators on the issue.
"With the recent Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, Illinois families need marriage more urgently than ever, and they shouldn't have to travel outside our borders to get it," Kohlhepp said. "Illinois Unites will bring same-sex couples and their children the protections and responsibilities of marriage as soon as possible."
Illinois is one of the four states which recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. With DOMA gone, moving each into the marriage equality column has become a priority for supporters. Gay couples in civil unions cannot access the federal benefits now being extended to married couples.