* My Sun-Times column…
If you’re heading to the Pride Parade this weekend, you might be tempted to boo some of the state politicians who’ll be marching.
If you want to boo them for screwing up the state’s finances, then go right ahead.
But don’t jeer because the marriage equality bill failed to pass the General Assembly.
First of all, the people who stopped the marriage bill won’t even be at the parade, let alone marching in it. The politicians marching in front of you on Sunday are on your side. They support marriage equality or they wouldn’t be there.
The Illinois Senate passed the gay marriage bill by a wide margin back in February, so there’s no need to boo any marching state senators. The bill came up short in the House, and while mistakes were surely made, those to blame are the state representatives who opposed the bill, not the people who supported it.
And don’t buy into the bizarre hype that the bill might’ve passed had it been called for a vote in the House. It wasn’t gonna happen. The roll call was going the other way fast by the end of the spring session.
There are just so many rumors about this bill. Almost none of them are true, and most have been spread by well-intentioned folks with little to no experience differentiating idle Statehouse gossip from fact.
For instance, the rumor mill was rampant about a vote occurring on May 30, the day before the session ended. But the truth is that the bill lost crucial momentum a few days before when it became known that a prominent House Republican who’d been leaning toward voting “Yes” had switched to a firm “No.” It was the first time that the supporters publicly lost a backer, but it wouldn’t be the last.
The groups supporting the marriage bill hadn’t bothered to do any real ground work in African-American districts, so some initially sympathetic black legislators found themselves targets of a ferocious and well-funded counterattack from their churches. The pro-marriage equality groups didn’t even hire any House-affiliated black lobbyists until the last two days, but by then it was just way too late.
Look, plenty of mistakes were made on this bill. But nobody made those mistakes out of malice.
The attacks on the bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, are particularly out of line. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted that bill to pass more than Harris did. He is widely respected as a competent legislator. But the Statehouse game is a lot like baseball. No one has a perfect batting average.
House Speaker Michael Madigan made some crucial errors, for sure. The vote probably should’ve been held much earlier in the session, before the opposition ramped up. But an honest person cannot tell you for sure that it would’ve passed back then. And, besides, I kinda doubt Madigan will be at the parade.
Gov. Pat Quinn claimed in early May that the bill had enough votes to pass, but his headcount was discovered to be bogus. His was just another false rumor which ultimately helped poison the well. Despite his bungles, Quinn means well on this issue, too. No sense in booing him.
If you want to heckle somebody, then pile some friends in a van and head to a parade in a House district represented by somebody who opposes gay marriage. That probably won’t do a lot of good, either, but at least the anger will be properly focused.
* Meanwhile, Senate President John Cullerton wants people to know that he’s not the problem…
State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told the Sun-Times on Thursday that he was willing to call same-sex marriage for a vote — for a second time — if that meant it would boost momentum in the Illinois House.
“Inaction is in the House,” he said when asked whether the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling would spur action in Springfield. The state Senate passed same-sex marriage on Valentine’s Day. But the House adjourned on May 31 without calling the measure for a vote.
`”I am working with the House sponsor to see if there’s anything that I can do,” Cullerton told the Sun-Times, who caught up with the lawmaker after a City Club of Chicago luncheon where David Axelrod headlined. “If they want us to repass the bill which would require another vote in the Senate with a changed effective date. If that would help, we’d be more than happy to try to do that.” […]
“Usually the second chamber, it’s easier to vote for a bill because your senator has already voted for it. A lot of people have said we’ll wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court, well they’ve acted. This is such an inevitability, figure it out guys. Let’s get this done.”
* New York Times…
Gay rights groups say they think the votes are there for a win at a brief legislative session this fall.
Maybe. Maybe sooner. Maybe later. But I still don’t think that this thing will get a vote in the veto session, which would be during the candidate filing process.
* Mark Brown: Illinois needs to finish what Supreme Court started: What was really going on was that Republican strategists had identified the threat of gay marriage as a wedge issue that could be used to motivate conservative voters to come out more strongly in that November’s national election. Democrats meekly went along to blunt the impact. The Illinois bill’s chief sponsor, a young state senator named Peter Fitzgerald, went so far as to close the debate with a story about a third-grade boy adopted by two gay men. “Every day this boy is dropped off at school by his parents, and the other kids make fun of him. And he’s constantly crying. He’s in the principal’s office. He’s constantly fighting,” Fitzgerald said disapprovingly, offering his story as an argument in favor of further discrimination against gay couples. How wonderful then that the Supreme Court observed quite the opposite in the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act.
* Durbin was for DOMA before he was against it
* Caprio: Congress must decide federal benefits for homosexual couples