* Back in October of 2010, Gov. Pat Quinn said he fully supported civil unions, but had this to say when he was asked about gay marriage…
Quinn said wasn’t opposed to legalizing gay marriage in Illinois. He said he wouldn’t “stand in the way, if the voters of Illinois want to have it come to pass.”
That looks to me like he wanted some sort of referendum. But, as we’ve discussed before, he began to change his public stance this year…
Asked on Valentine’s Day if he would sign a gay marriage bill, Quinn said, “I haven’t looked at that yet; I’ll take a look at it.”
Soon after, Quinn told Chicago public radio that he looks “forward to working with the advocates on this issue to build a majority.”
* But then President Obama announced recently that he supported gay marriage. The announcement came in the wake of North Carolina’s statewide vote against the issue. The Democratic National Convention is in NC this year, so the plebiscite became a big dealio with the national media. Then there was the uproar about Mitt Romney giving a gay high school classmate a forced haircut, and the vice president’s comments recently about supporting gay marriage.
Quinn is almost always in lockstep with Obama on just about everything, so the governor jumped into the fray yesterday…
“He stands with the president in supporting this,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “The governor believes in equal rights for all people.”
* So, was that a flip-flop? No, says the Quinn administration…
Spokeswoman Matsoff maintained that Quinn isn’t changing his position, because he had said before that he wouldn’t stand in the way if a gay marriage bill passed the General Assembly.
That’s not what he said in 2010.
* So, could a vote happen soon? Not yet…
State Rep. Greg Harris, an openly gay Chicago Democrat who helped lead the successful push to bring civil unions to Illinois, also suggested it was unlikely a push for gay marriage would take place anytime soon.
“I never put a time frame on the civil union vote. I won’t put a time frame on this one. I’ll keep counting noses,” Harris said.
But, Harris said Obama’s announcement this week represents a huge step forward for supporters of gay marriage.
“History was made by the president when he came out and made that statement,” said Harris, who is sponsoring a gay marriage bill. “Change is happening, and it’s happening more quickly than I would have thought.”
* But maybe after the election…
Strategically, Garcia said, gay rights activists in the state had no expectation that marriage rights would be politically palatable this soon after the civil unions law passed.
“Our plan was to pass civil unions and then let everybody who voted yes on civil unions get through their next election, which is this November,” he said.
There will be a ton of lame ducks who might be able to vote for this in January, when a simple majority is all that’s needed to pass a bill.