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Gay marriage stalls… for now

Friday, Jan 4, 2013

* 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.”

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    === They came up short and the Senate Democrats looked bad in the process ===

    Almost Republican-esque blundering!

    What a touching homage to start the new year.


  2. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    ==Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the Illinois Family Institute, told lawmakers the bill was “an attack on our particular religious beliefs”==

    One word. BULL. The Illinois Family Institute has one goal: to force religion in the public policy sphere. It’s a shame that they and other like-minded people have an irrational fear of gay marriage. Nobody is attacking religion. You don’t have a right to impose your relgious beliefs on other people. And he is a liar in saying ceremonies would have to be performed in churches. Bigotry is alive and well.


  3. - Excessively Rabid - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    All I can say is that if a fairly conservative US Supreme Court with six Roman Catholics on it throws out the DOMA, a lot of other people are going to look pretty silly, including state legislatures and nominally liberal Protestant denominations.


  4. - Esquire - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    I will acknowledge that Brady has a point: most young people who have been indoctrinated into accepting same sex marriages by their school teachers now see the issue as a simple matter of promoting civil rights. Few, if any, have ever heard any contrary arguments in favor of traditional marriage.

    I would probably be less critical and more accepting of the passage of such legislation if it were submitted to a statewide referendum as opposed to being pushed through during the lame duck session of the General Assembly. I suspect that the backers of same sex marriage do not want the voting public to have a role in the process because they are less likely to prevail if the voters were to address the question.

    The best comment on Obama’s endorsement of the measure came from retiring State Representative Joe Lyons (D). He reminded everyone of Obama’s habit of ducking difficult votes by abstaining or voting “present.” Obama has been in favor of, against, and in favor of same sex marriage during his career. He is nothing if not an opportunist on the subject.


  5. - Nick Kruse - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    ==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==

    The Religious Right is only interested in stopping this bill. They won’t compromise on anything about this bill.


  6. - shore - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    gay marriage isn’t the reason the party keeps losing elections and by using it in this way haphazardly the way brady has he’s just made it worse. if they were going to do this, the way would have been to get either mark kirk or dillard to give a press conference and back it and say this is how it’s going to fly from here with me. This just looks like a half baked political stunt/hail mary and won’t do anything.


  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    ===I suspect that the backers of same sex marriage do not want the voting public to have a role in the process ===

    Um, read the Illinois Constitution.


  8. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    @Esquire:

    Indoctrination? That’s laughable.

    Also, people don’t have the right to vote on granting people equality. Thank goodness we have a Constitution to protect us from that sort of nonsense.


  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    @Esquire:

    Oh, and one more thing. You do have a vote in the process. It’s called your vote for a representative. We don’t live in a direct democracy. You don’t get the right to vote on every issue that arises just because you don’t agree with it.


  10. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    - most young people who have been indoctrinated into accepting same sex marriages by their school teachers now see the issue as a simple matter of promoting civil rights. -

    Yeah, I remember all those lessons in school about same sex marriages, sheesh.

    You bigots will blame anyone and anything except your own prejudice. Good riddance, you’re going to lose this battle.


  11. - just sayin' - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Once again I just love how when conservatives talk about social issues they are told to be quiet because social issues don’t matter, there are “more important” issues to worry about, blah, blah, blah.

    But once again we see the left focusing almost exclusively on social issues and being roundly praised by friendly press.


  12. - Wensicia - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    This is one time I can enthusiastically support Pat Brady. Bravo!


  13. - NWIL Mom - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    My daughter and son-in-law legally married this past summer in a civil ceremony. No prayers, no mention of God. On their marriage certificate, it is checked “civil” versus “religious” as to the type of ceremony.

    They are legally married in the state of Illinois, recognized in every other state and by our federal government. Not a shred of religion involved even though they were raised Methodist and Catholic.

    So why then does it not make perfect sense for my son and some-day son-in-law to be covered by these same legal rights and privileges in this state and union of states?

    I applaud all our legislators in both parties that have the foresight to get on the right side of history now. Go spend our tax dollars on other issues!


  14. - zatoichi - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    Esquire, I remember so clearly my kids coming home and talking on how their teachers really pushed gay marriage in the classroom and refusing to discuss anything else. Like it was yesterday. Maybe last month. It’s been awhile. I am sure our school Board approved that approach.


  15. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    …most young people who have been indoctrinated into accepting same sex marriages by their school teachers now see the issue as a simple matter of promoting civil rights.

    Esquire, as a recent product of America’s schools, I can assure you that “most young people” have not been “indoctrinated” into accepting gay marriage by any schoolteachers. It is more a product of seeing, knowing, and experiencing gay people as friends and knowing in one’s heart that there is not a single thing that differentiates you from them as a human being that justifies institutional bigotry enshrined in our laws. For many of us, our families have taught us that it is just and appropriate to treat people as human beings who deserve respect and love, not scorn and bigotry. I think of it this way, there existed a time not too long ago in our society when it was I who would have been an object of scorn and bigotry as a mixed-race person in America. If there was a time when I would have been denied my humanity in civil society, why should I want or allow that to continue for others?


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    - most young people who have been indoctrinated into accepting same sex marriages by their school teachers now see the issue as a simple matter of promoting civil rights. -

    Really? Is that what’s going on in schools? I thought they would be too busy removing God.

    I don’t know for a fact, but I suspect the great majority of young people are not cool with a bunch of prurient sanctomaniacs peeking in their windows and basing public policy on how they get down.

    Seriously, how does that even come up? Who asks that question?

    I miss my old-timers, the ones who beat the Nazis, the Commies and American apartheid. They’d be howling at the moon on this issue.

    Having said that, Illinois Democrats have bounced a fast-break slam-dunk off the back rim. What an embarrassment.

    Stop patting yourself on the back about your 40-19 majority. Get your game on, and get some business done. If you can’t move the ball on this and guns, I don’t even want to know you.


  17. - ChicagoR - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    Word, thanks for adding “prurient sanctomaniac” to my vocabulary.


  18. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    Unbelievable.


  19. - Belle - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 12:44 pm:

    Separation of Church and State anyone? The Cardinal and Ralph’s opinion should not matter.

    Plus, no one cares anymore. It’s totally acceptable to most people now that we have gone thru multiple years of watching “Will and Grace” and “Modern Family” — it’s seems so 1990 to give a rat’s butt about this issue.


  20. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Separation of Church and State anyone? The Cardinal and Ralph’s opinion should not matter.

    Umm, just because they are officials of a church does not mean they shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion or a viewpoint on a public issue or an issue of public policy. I suspect if this was an issue where the Cardinal might be considered ‘liberal’ such as the death penalty you wouldn’t want them to remain silent.

    You know, I would like to see this passed, but I would also like to see it passed without the normal end of session stuff like putting it on another bill or suspending rules. It kind of cheapens it a bit IMHO.

    Well we gave you rights, but as a rider on a bill that covers insurance regulation.

    Am I missing something, can’t this be passed like in two weeks with a simple majority?


  21. - B2Chicago - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    Unless they were counting on votes from retiring members or those not re-elected, it really shouldn’t matter except that they would have to start the procedural process over again.

    And it gives more time for those on both sides to gather support and spread misinformation…


  22. - Skeptic - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    “just because they are officials of a church does not mean they shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion or a viewpoint on a public issue or an issue of public policy.” You’re right, they *as citizens* have the same right to express their opinions as you and I. But it’s fact that they’re church officials *speaking for the church* that’s the problem.


  23. - Jaded - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 3:34 pm:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free excercise therof; or abridging the freedom of speach, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”

    I am pretty sure people who run around screaming separation of church and state in these instances have never really read this brillant run-on sentence.

    You can disagree with what the Bishop or the Cardinal, or anyone else quite frankly has to say about this issue, but to say they don’t have the right to say it as a citizen OR an official of the church, is pretty ridiculous.


  24. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 3:35 pm:

    ===but to say they don’t have the right to say it as a citizen OR an official of the church, is pretty ridiculous.===

    Totally agree. Some of you are just clueless about the boundaries of separation of church and state.


  25. - Esquire - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    Since both the Federal and State governments cannot pay their bills, fund employee pension plans, or pay Medicare bills on a timely basis, does it make fiscal sense to expand marriage rights to include spousal benefits and survivor benefits to classes of people who were ineligible for such payments for the past eighty plus years?


  26. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 4:12 pm:

    –does it make fiscal sense to expand marriage rights to include spousal benefits and survivor benefits to classes of people who were ineligible for such payments for the past eighty plus years?–

    LOL, seriously, a fiscal argument against?

    And I thought the cardinal invoking “natural law” was funny.


  27. - jaranath - Friday, Jan 4, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    I agree with Rich and One Man, I can’t imagine excluding any non-profit from expressing an opinion. As I understand it the problem is when they start getting involved in the actual election process, however messy drawing that line may have become.

    Which is NOT to say that you can’t criticize someone–heavily–for voicing their opinion. Way too many people these days equate such criticism with censorship, and it isn’t, not by a long shot. Indeed it’s the opposite, fighting speech with more speech. But One Man wasn’t making that mistake.

    I have a lot of issues with churches and tax breaks (parsonage exemption, anyone?) but the Cardinal’s speech on this issue isn’t one of them.


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