Sunday, June 02, 2013

Illinois House Adjourns Without Marriage Vote, Racially Tinged Blame Game Begins

In a move that surprised and dismayed LGBT activists, the Illinois House of Representatives adjourned on Friday without calling a vote on SB10, the marriage equality legislation that had passed the State Senate more than 3 months earlier on Valentine's Day. This was shocking because even though passage of the bill had not been assured, at the very least a vote on the legislation was thought to be assured. Without a vote, there is no way to get supporters and opponents on record in order to identify who needs to be persuaded. This rare defeat in Illinois, in a Spring where three states have enacted marriage equality, has caused bitter remonstrations among activists, and racially insensitive accusations of blame.

The LGBT paper of record is not happy with the chief sponsor of the legislation, openly gay State Representative Greg Harris, and is not shy about expressing it:
The biggest blame has to be placed on the chief sponsor of the marriage equality bill in the Illinois House, Rep. Greg Harris, an openly gay man. If you are out front for the credit when there is victory, you are also out front for the failure. The bill stops there.

Harris made promises he could not keep. In politics, that can be a reason to step down. Harris, who has dedicated his career to LGBT and AIDS issues, deserves the chance to prove his strategy right. If he wins, we all win, and that is all that matters. But if he does not succeed in passing this in the veto session this fall, he should not run for re-election in 2014. To be clear, this is not a call for Harris to resign, but he will have lost the trust of the people he made commitments to, and it is very difficult to lead once that trust is gone.

In addition, Harris should step down now as chief sponsor of this legislation. He has proven he is tone deaf to the wishes of both the grassroots and leadership of this community. They almost all called for a vote "no matter what." Instead, Harris chose to give cover to his political colleagues, rather than follow through on his own on-the-record promise to call for a vote by May 31.
It should be noted that it takes 60 votes to pass the bill and there are 71 Democrats and 47 Republicans in the House. There are 20 members of the House Black Caucus and 2 members had openly announced their support (including the chair), the same number as Republicans despite their much larger numbers. So suggestions that "homophobic Black legislators" were the cause of the bill's defeat do not make any kind of sense. Do the math!

If you don't want do that, Trans Griot breaks it down for you in her inimitable style:
In the Illinois House two of the legislators sponsoring it were from the same Illinois House Black Legislative Caucus being vilified by elements of the white gay community right now in Rep.Christian Mitchell and Rep Kenneth Dunkin, the chair of the House Black Legislative Caucus.  

But naw, that won't work pointing out those inconvenient facts when you're desperately trying to be 'just like them' and get your lost white privilege spots back . It's also an irrefutable one you are part of the ethnic group that comprises the bulk of the determined opposition to marriage equality 

So it's dust off the Black folks are 'uniquely homophobic' meme, blame the Illinois House Black Legislative Caucus for your surprising defeat and deflect the blame from various predominately white run LG equality organizations concerning the failure to make the case why marriage equality should happen in Illinois.  

And the more you fan the hell-fire flames of gay bigotry toward African-Americans SGL, trans and straight, the happier you make NOM and the more you set back the cause of getting marriage equality passed in Illinois and elsewhere in the country where you'll need to build coalitions with Black people to make that happen.
I completely agree that the decision not to call the vote was absolutely incorrect. The cause of marriage equality is strengthened by the more people whose positions are known, and with polls showing support for marriage equality enjoying solid majorities in blue states like Illinois it is only a question of when, not if, marriage equality will come to Illinois.

According to Joe.My.God, it turns out that there may actually be another session during the summer, so the marriage equality bill has had its life extended through August 31, 2013.

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