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Close or not? House gay marriage vote looms

Thursday, May 30, 2013

* As I told subscribers earlier today, the most pervasive rumor at the Statehouse is that the gay marriage bill will be called for a vote today. I’m not sure what to believe at this point. Here’s the Illinois Observer’s take

A top Democrat told The Illinois Observer on Wednesday night, “The roll call is in the high 50s. It’s close; it’s almost there.” […]

Some pro-marriage equality activists, who have been chafing at the Illinois House’s inaction this spring while other states have swiftly approved their own same sex marriage bills, have grown increasingly frustrated with House Speaker Michael Madigan, arguing that he only needs to “twist some arms” to get to 60.

“Madigan is loathe to force a member to vote against his or her district and to anger a majority of his or her constituents,” said an insider. “That’s how expensive primary challenges are created, which waste money needed to beat Republicans in the fall.”

The insider also noted that a string of controversial votes taken during the spring legislative session could ignite multiple primary contests for Democrats next year.

“The pension vote and the conceal carry vote have already exposed multiple Democrats to potential primary challenges,” said the insider. “A risky same sex marriage vote will just expand the pool of Democratic incumbents staring at a primary fight.”

There’s no doubt that Chicago-area Democrats could be looking at primary challengers because of this year’s controversial session.

* Meanwhile, President Obama
spoke about the gay marriage bill last night in Chicago

America is probably more tolerant, more accepting of difference than any time in our history. Obviously, you’ve got an African American President, a former and soon to be again female Speaker of the House. The work that we did together to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that I could not be prouder of. But we also know that there’s still a lot of people who are excluded in our society and we’ve got more work to do.

Here in Illinois, we’ve got a vote on same-sex marriage that’s going to be coming up in the state legislature. And I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply support. I wrestled with this for a long time and I am absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do. And we have to make sure that wherever we go, we are reminding people that the essence of America is that everybody is treated equally under the law without exception.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Downstater - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    =a former and soon to be again female Speaker of the House. =
    Yeah! Like that is going to happen.

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    There’s your Obama cover, said it Chicago, for anyone who wants it or thinks they need it.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    A former, and soon to be again, female Speaker of the House.

  4. - Amalia - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    equality is equality. Good luck, Rep. Harris!

  5. - DaveM - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Hope the rumors are true. Pass this bill, Illinois.

  6. - Want to Marry - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    In Rhode Island, same sex marriage supporters ran well funded primary challenges to several state senators, including the Judiciary Committee chairman. (The RI House was fully supportive, the opposite situation from Illinois). While they didn’t win the races, they came close enough that it focused the survivors’ attention and helped change their votes, thus winning the prize.

    Supporters in Illinois need to be prepared to fund primary challenges to house members if it comes to that.

  7. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    If this bill is not called, or if it does not pass, it sounds easy to blame the Democrats who don’t support it. While that may be partially true, blame must also go to Republicans. They have to do better than only a few legislators voting Yea.

    What is the equilibrium point on this issue nationally? Have many of the blue/purple states that support SSM already passed it, and the issue will settle down, or is the “tide” still rising? In other words, will more and more states pass it? Because it passed everywhere it was called, I hope that if they don’t have the votes, they don’t call it. It would be embarrassing to me if it was defeated.

    Since the vote count must be very close, there aren’t many arms to twist for Madigan, and thus the political risk is smaller. Or maybe just call it, and if it gets defeated, ramp up the political battle to a new level.

  8. - Beth - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    @Want To Marry:

    Not accurate. The primary challenges in RI were very modestly funded. Despite that, several did succeed in ousting incumbents. Several others put normally safe incumbents within a few percentage points of defeat. Had RI not passed marriage equality this year, then you would have seen a fully funded primary effort. As you will in IL if the House fails to come through.

  9. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    Northside DFA tries to be aware of potential challengers in Dem primaries in Chicago and I’m not hearing about a bunch of activity on this front. It might be happening and I’m unaware.

    BTW, if people do want training, DFA is sending its national training team to Chicago July 6-7. One can register at the DFA website.

    The training is good to hone one’s skills in field, media and fundraising. And it’s a good opportunity to network with other Dem activists.

    But I do get a sense that a large number of people feel like the Illinois General Assembly isn’t working well for them. Some of the stuff MJM says even gives this impression.

    Given the widespread dissatisfaction with Illinois legislators there should be lots of challenges b/c they aren’t doing a particularly good job.

    Defeat incumbents, it motivates the others to perform better.

  10. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    I can see how a pension vote encourages some Dem primaries in the Chicago area, depending on how well organized the teachers want to be next cycle. However, I don’t see marriage equality stirring many primary challenges. A vote for CCW with super preemption will give some challengers an opening, but there isn’t the same kind of infrastructure for gun control candidates to tap into as there is with AFSCME, IFT, IEA, CTU, etc.

    In other words, for those Chicago area Dems worried about a primary, marriage equality should be the least of their concerns.

  11. - Seabrook Fan - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    Agree with @47th. Ask Sullivan or Sandack about fears from Ds when it comes to primaries on this issue.

  12. - Want to Marry - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    Is the Illinois SSM effort underfunded enough and unorganized enough that Dems shouldn’t fear primary challenges? I’m contrasting this with Minnesota, where they spent $12M+ fighting off an amendment and another $2M+ lobbying and are now moving their fundraising into a PAC to support SSM supporters.

  13. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    Pew put out an analysis earlier this week regarding the fact that momentum for gay marriage may well stall nationally after this summer.

    In essence, the states most likely to support it have already approvied it, or are currently considering it.

    The other 35 states or so appear unlikely to join their counterparts in the near future. The momentum simply isn’t there, according to Pew.

    It will be interesting to see how things play out.

  14. - Just Watching - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    I hope they run it even if they don’t have the votes. Just to get a snapshot of the rollcall. Flush out how close they really are.

  15. - Zak - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    @Want to Marry:

    I think Illinois is facing some greater hurdles to begin with than the other states that voted for marriage equality. First of all, the state is a totally different animal than MN, RI, or DE, and I personally don’t even begin to really understand it’s complex political machine(s).

    The “Freedom to Marry” campaign may be just as strong there but simply have more to deal with; as much as I am proud of MN United for All Families, for example, I am pretty confident that a campaign like that would have been crushed in Illinois. That’s OK, because it worked exactly where it was tailored to work, but I’m just saying that the landscape of that state does not make this as straight-forward a game - one that has only been further complicated by these massive robocall efforts in Chicago organized by Rev. Meeks and others.

    Chicago politics, everyone.*

    (*Joke, joke! I know this is an at least somewhat unfair stereotype, and I think Chicago is actually really fascinating politically.)

  16. - reformer - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    I can’t think of any City House Dems who lost primaries in the last three cycles. I know Barrios and Burke had tough races, but they won.

  17. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    I think part of the difficulty lies in the rapidly changing attitudes of voters. I suspect there are some legislators who do not know where their constituents are, but if they did, they would vote yes,

  18. - Tom B. - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    The logic on this is backwards.

    When those primaries come, people reach out to the progressive community to fund them. Anyone who thinks they’re going to vote against the unions, Chicago/Cook activist crowd who cares about guns, and then rebuff the call of their President and further discrimination by voting against gay marriage is going to ward off primary challenge has this wrong.

    That invites a primary challenge from all three groups. Best move is to actually vote for gay marriage (or any one of those items) to lessen the impact.

    Primary challenges come from the left, not the right.

  19. - Skeptic - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    The three rules for success: Don’t trust, don’t trust, don’t trust.
    If the votes were there to pass SB10, it would have been called by now. Comments from Harris and others who say the votes are there, are not believable until the vote is called and the bill is passed. It is irresponsible for Harris and others to claim the votes are there, yet also say we are close. What the heck, do they think we are stupid. If the votes are there, call the vote!

  20. - RichR - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    I think Formerly Known As just doesn’t understand the point about Pew. There are only a few states left that can adopt same-sex marriage by statute. The overwhelming majority have constitutional barriers, which in most cases requires at least one vote in the legislature (possibly subject to supermajority) and a referendum to repeal the constitutional ban. For example, Nevada passed a resolution to repeal its ban recently, but it will have to pass another in 2015/16, sending to a 2016 referendum. So for some states, even action in the next year will only set up the possibility of change a few years from now. Hence the impending stall. Because the burden is higher, there will necessarily be a lag before states reach the point where there is enough support in the electorate to translate into constitutional change.

  21. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    47 is absolutely right. That “insider” seems to be laying cover for the Speaker to stay out of it. It’s simply not a serious threat.

    I mean, how would that primary campaign go exactly? “I agree with Rep. xxxx on most issues but he’s out of step with our values.” Yea, that always gets the dust flying in Democratic districts…

  22. - Random Task - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    How much actual clout does Obama have in Illinois?

    He has never been able to successfully promote to many ideas here. When he went to the US Senate, Obama was unable to anoint his successor in the Illinois State Senate. Kwame Raoul, who had been working in Evanston a short time earlier, curried favor with the committeemen and got the spot.

    His efforts to recommend Valerie Jarrett as his appointed successor in the US Senate went no place and he entered office under and ethical cloud for using intermediaries to sound out Governor Blagojevich.

    Obama’s personally lobbying failed to secure Chicago the Olympics.

    Obama did help get Alexi Gianialouias elected Treasurer, but that did not turn out so well and Alexi lost the US Senate seat to Kirk despite Obama’s support.

    The President’s endorsement of same sex marriage plays to his base, but is anyone in Springfield actually listening?

    I doubt it. Legislators are going to choose for themselves.

  23. - austinman - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    There Will Be Some Primaries In Certain Legislative Districts If Certain Reps Vote For ssm, Especially ON The South And West Sides OfTheCity, I WaS Just Told To Count On It.

  24. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, May 30, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    So the Prez is “ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED” it should pass–that’s hardly just “support” for the idea–his true colors on the issue have now become about as bright color behind it as you could imagine he had been all along–despite what he preached about back in 2008…!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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