Illinois may soon become the tenth state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. How soon? Possibly by next week.
A bill that would allow gays and lesbians to walk down the aisle in the Land of Lincoln has been winding its way through the state legislature in recent weeks, but those behind the bill are now racing to pass it before the current lame-duck session ends next Wednesday.
If LGBT advocates and their allies miss their deadline for passage, the effort won't be completely derailed because Democrats will have a super-majority in the incoming legislature, making passage later this year likely if not certain. Still, the bill's backers don't want to leave anything up to chance and appear eager to capitalize on a current crop of lame-duck lawmakers who are free to vote without worrying about any potential political ramifications down the road.
Illinois lawmakers used a similar lame-duck session in 2011 to legalize civil unions for gays and lesbian.
Senate Democrats had hoped to move the gay-marriage bill as a standalone yesterday during the first day of the session but were temporarily slowed by a procedural roadblock. According to the Windy City Times, they'll try again today by tacking the legislation on as an amendment to a bill dealing with car rentals that was already scheduled for a vote. Democratic leaders seem to think they already have enough support in the Senate for passage, and are hopeful the House will quickly follow suit once the upper chamber acts.
The effort got a major push over the holidays when President Obama signaled his support for the effort, the first time that he's specifically endorsed a state-legislative effort for marriage equality. "Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally," a spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times last week.