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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
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Topics In the News
Disappointment in Illinois
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/01/13
Last updated on: 06/01/13
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Rep. Greg Harris.

Despite support for Illinois' marriage-equality bill from President Obama, Governor Ryan, both U.S. Senators, and House Speaker Mike Madigan, the state House of Representative adjourned on May 31, 2013 without voting on the bill, which was passed by the state Senate in February. A tearful Representative Greg Harris, the openly gay chief sponsor of the bill, announced that some lawmakers had requested more time to consult their constituents and that he would not be calling for a vote on the measure.

Despite 71 Democratic Representatives in the House, the marriage equality bill apparently did not have the 60 votes needed to pass it into law. Representative Harris had previously expressed confidence that the votes were there. When he announced that no vote would be taken, the gallery, which was packed with marriage equality supporters, erupted with groans of disappointment.

In 2011, Illinois instituted civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Had the marriage equality bill been passed and signed into law, Illinois would have become the 13th state to permit same-sex marriage.

In making his announcement, Harris expressed confidence that the bill would pass in the fall session. "We will be back, and we will be voting on this bill," he said. He also apologized "to the families who were hoping to wake up tomorrow as full and equal citizens of this state."

Immediately following the withdrawal of the bill, finger-pointing began, some blaming Speaker Madigan, who is de facto leader of the Democratic Party in Illinois. Other criticized Harris for withdrawing the bill, arguing that a vote would have at least made clear with Representatives supported the bill and which did not.

In the video below, Representative Harris announces the withdrawal of the bill. His announcement is followed by a passionate speech by openly lesbian Representative Deb Mell.

In the following video, Windy City Times editor Tracy Baim interviews Representative Harris after his dramatic announcement.

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