Gov. Pat Quinn called on the Illinois House to send him legislation to legalize gay marriage, saying lawmakers had plenty of time to make up their mind on the issue.
The state Senate passed the measure on Valentine's Day, and the governor has said he's ready to sign it.
“It's time to vote,” Quinn said Thursday. “Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So it's important to Illinois (that) the House of Representatives get going.”
The Democratic governor’s comments come a day after Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a gay marriage bill into law and the same day the Minnesota House endorsed a same-sex marriage bill.
Quinn contends the support is there to pass the measure, though sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, would not say when he expects to call the legislation for a vote. Harris noted the lawmakers were focused on pension reform, but said momentum continues to build in favor of same-sex marriage.
“In the last couple months we have seen the voters of three different states vote for marriage equality at the ballot bot and in the last week we saw two other states, and probably a third today, where the legislature said that treating people equally is the right American thing to do,” Harris said. “Now the eyes of the country are on Illinois to see if we are going to do the right thing.”
Supporters have said they are closing in on the 60 House votes required to send the bill to Quinn. But backers also are not expected to call the bill until they’re sure they have enough votes lined up to pass it. The thinking is that gay marriage supporters don’t want to ask allies to take what for some is a tough vote politically if the measure is going to fail because that would make it more difficult to muster support a second time.
Opponents say marriage should continue to be defined as between a man and a woman. Cardinal Francis George and other religious leaders are mustering opposition to the bill and blocked it from passing in the lame-duck session that ended in early January.
The pro-gay marriage side has a well-funded push to sway lawmakers and the public into their camp.
Harris said he hopes his colleagues were paying attention to the action in other states, saying that “none of the horrible scenarios” that opponents envision have come true.
“People who were married before same sex marriage are still happy and with their families,” Harris said. “All that has occurred is that the community has been strengthened, families have been strengthened and children have found loving parents to help raise them.”