Geof Stone: "Same-Sex Marriage in Illinois: The Role of the Black Church"
The Illinois House failed Friday to act on pending legislation that would have allowed same-sex couples in Illinois to marry. The bill had passed the Illinois Senate on Valentine's Day, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had proudly promised to sign the bill into law, both of Illinois' United States senators enthusiastically endorsed the legislation, the speaker of the Illinois House, the Illinois attorney general, every major newspaper in Illinois, and a majority of Illinois' citizens supported the legislation.
Nonetheless, Representative Greg Harris, the sponsor of the legislation, declined at the last moment to call the bill for a vote. After many months of tireless work by many thousands of Illinois citizens, Harris, who is a hero on this issue, tearfully announced that he did not have the votes to enact the law because "several of my colleagues have indicated that they would not be willing to cast a vote on this bill today." And so the matter was shelved for another day.
How did this happen? Marriage for same-sex couples is a sharply partisan issue. Democrats overwhelmingly support it (69 percent in favor); Republicans overwhelmingly oppose it (27 percent in favor). It is also an ideological issue. Liberals overwhelmingly support it (80 percent in favor); conservatives overwhelmingly oppose it (28 percent in favor). Predictably, the vote in the Illinois Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, followed clear party/ideological lines. Only one Republican in the Illinois Senate voted in favor of the legislation, but it passed on a pretty much party-line vote of 34 to 21.