Monday, December 31, 2012

Obama Lobbies For Illinois Marriage Equality Bill

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that President Obama has been in personal communication with legislators in Illinois to lobby them in support of marriage equality legislation which is expected to be considered during a lame-duck session in January.
"While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect," White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.
"As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally," Inouye said.
The lead sponsors of the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), intend to put the measure up for a vote during the upcoming January lame-duck session.
The toughest challenge for gay marriage backers will be winning passage in the Illinois House. Prospects for approval in the Illinois Senate--where Obama once served--are brighter.
The practical impact of Obama urging his home state to legalize gay marriage is to prod--and give political cover to--reluctant Democrats from conservative suburban and Downstate districts.
Illinois has a civil union law that went into effect on June 1, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn (D) is one of the most unpopular governors in the country but has stated his support for marriage equality. Illinois's current discriminatory marriage law is being challenged in court and the governor and attorney general are refusing to defend it, since they support marriage equality as well.

Obama announced publicly in May 2012 that he supports marriage equality and released statements in support of marriage equality ballot measures in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington during the 2012 presidential election campaign. This is the first state marriage equality bill that Obama has lobbied for, but since he started his political career as a member of the Illinois legislature, it is expected that he has a personal stake and interest in his home state enacting marriage equality.

Hat/tip to Talking Points Memo

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