Although the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was first introduced in Illinois earlier this year on February 14, Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s sponsor, says it finally has enough votes to pass in the state legislature. Harris will not say how many he has obtained of the 60 votes necessary for its successful passage into law but he has said that he is certain that once an official House vote is called, there will be more than enough. And llinois governor, Patrick Quinn, has already announced his public support for the bill and has promised to sign it just as soon as it arrives on his desk.
If passed, the bill would make Illinois the 13th state in the nation to officially recognize same-sex marriages. The bill has been publicly supported by President Obama as well as former President Bill Clinton, but some argue that the hold up on this bill could be in part due to the fear that many Republican members of the House have to announce their support.
“Any Republican in Illinois who betrays the cause of marriage will be casting a career-ending vote and will be held accountable to their constituents,” said Brian Brown, the president for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). “We will spend whatever it takes — hundreds of thousands of dollars if necessary — to remove them from office, just as we did three of the four turncoat Republican state senators in New York who were responsible for gay ‘marriage’ passing there,” Brown added.
This statement made by Brown in January appears to be proving more than just a threat. Already this year the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Pat Brady, who was nearly ousted by the GOP central committee after publicly announcing his support for gay marriage has decided to “step-down.” In his reasoning, he stated that the tension caused over the gay marriage debate is among the many reasons for his decision.
“I’ve been going at it hard for six years, I need to focus on my family, and obviously I had lost the support of the state Central Committee because of my position on gay marriage,” Brady said.
Also this year, Republican State House Rep. Rob Sandack, who was heckled and booed off stage at an anti-gay protest after announcing his support of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, has withdrawn from the race for GOP chair.
“I think the most important part of the job needs to be a rebranding of Republicans in Illinois…We need to be far more inclusionary…Not many people are fond of us.” Sandack said upon the announcement of his decision on May 15.
And although he is already on his way out the door of his political office, Brady stands firm in his opinion that while the Illinois state legislature considers the legalization of same-sex marriage, the republicans need to adopt a more inclusive political platform. When it comes to same-sex marriages and matters of equality, Brady said, “We need to get on the right side of history.”
But no matter which side of history that will be, time is running out.
“Now the eyes of the country are on Illinois to see if we are going to do the right thing,” stated Quinn after calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to “hurry-up” and send him the marriage bill.
“It’s time to vote.” Quinn said.