* Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel made gay marriage a top priority of the lame duck session. They came up short and the Senate Democrats looked bad in the process…
In the Senate, the wheels came off the gay-marriage wagon Thursday after three key supporters wound up being absent, leaving the roll call being assembled by the bill’s backers below the 30 votes needed for passage by the full Senate.
The absent senators included retiring Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), who was in Israel; Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D-Belleville), who had a family health crisis emerge involving his son; and Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa), whose mother died.
At one point during the day, backers of the gay-marriage bill went so far as to try persuading Schoenberg to tender his resignation from the Senate and allow his successor, Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), to be seated, meaning a pick-up of a gay-marriage vote. But that plan fizzled.
So instead, the legislation got a lengthy hearing in the Senate Executive Committee, which voted 8-5 to move the bill to the Senate floor.
Republicans were against the measure. But Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) left open the possibility of “bi-partisan support” if changes were made to appease worries of religious leaders, who testified Thursday about their concerns over how the legislation would impact churches opposed to gay marriage.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the marriage bill’s chief Senate sponsor, held out hope for a Tuesday vote but also acknowledged her issue might have to wait until after a new, more Democratic-version of the Legislature is seated Wednesday
Blaming the loss on absent members isn’t really a good excuse since pretty much everybody in the Senate knew from the get-go that Sen. Schoenberg was in Israel and wouldn’t be attending. That was the time to hold off and take stock. Instead, they pushed forward and looked bad.
* There were also some serious questions about unintended consequences…
Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the Illinois Family Institute, told lawmakers the bill was “an attack on our particular religious beliefs” and that it would force churches and other religious institutions to allow their facilities to be used for same-sex marriages.
Steans said that wouldn’t be the case, but she said she planned to work with Republicans to address some of those concerns.
* But there was hope for the future…
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said she hoped a compromise could be reached on church exemption language. Radogno voted “no” in committee, but Steans nonetheless said she was pleased by Radogno’s comment.
“I was very heartened by Leader Radogno’s desire to make this bipartisan,” Steans said. “I think that might have one of the more important things we heard today. That was terrific.”
* You can watch last night’s Executive Committee hearing on the matter by clicking here.
* And, as Greg Hinz reports, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady isn’t backing off, either…
Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady says he’s heard from more partisans than he can count in the last 24 hours — many of them quoting the Bible — even though he’s out of state on a family vacation and is available only by cell phone.
But he says he’s not backing off his decision to endorse a pending bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. Not one little bit.
“Ask yourself this: How has it been for us (Republicans) in Illinois for the past 15 years?” Mr. Brady said in a phone chat this morning, referring to a series of election setbacks by the GOP. “How are we ever going to get the vote of anyone under 40?’ […]
“People have a very bad image of the party now. Mean-spirited. But this is the party of Lincoln, the party of equality,” Mr. Brady told me. The gay wedding ban is “the last condoned discrimination.”