Fears of political retaliation over Illinois gay marriage vote unwarranted

Wed. December 18, 2013 8:36 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Chicago, IL - Social conservative groups opposed to Illinois' gay marriage law have failed to deliver on making the issue part of next year's primary races.

The marriage bill languished in the House for a year before clearing its final hurdle in November. One reason cited for the bill's slow progress was threats from opponents to line up primary challengers against lawmakers who voted for the legislation.

Only nine of the fourteen black House Democrats heavily targeted by opponents have primary challengers, seven of whom told the AP that marriage equality wasn't a top campaign issue. One even approved of the law. Two candidates did not return the news agency's calls.

Challengers to three Republicans who voted in favor of the marriage bill have also mostly ignored the issue.

Only one challenger said that lawmakers should be ousted for approving same-sex marriage.

"There should be a price to pay if a lawmaker made a decision on same-sex marriage based on personal gain ...versus what constituents want," said Linda Jernigan, who is challenging Rep. Al Riley, a Democrat.

However, Jernigan, a pastor at Rescuing Ministries, isn't a casual passerby in the debate. Instead, she's a prominent activist who opposes gay rights and believes that gay people can – and should – alter their sexuality.

(Related: Gay and lesbian couples can begin marrying in Illinois on June 1, three years to the day after a civil unions law took effect in the state. On Monday, a federal judged ruled that Illinois gay couples facing a terminal illness can marry early.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine