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Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Flock To Springfield To Push For Vote

Illinois House Of Representatives

The Illinois House floor. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Supporters of gay marriage in Illinois say now is the time for lawmakers to give it the okay, and headed to Springfield by the busload on Tuesday to deliver their message, but it remained unclear if there were enough votes in the House to send same-sex marriage legislation to the governor.

Thousands of supporters of same-sex marriage headed to Springfield early Tuesday, where they’ll hold a rally in the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol, and then march around the building. Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he’ll sign the gay marriage legislation if it’s sent to his desk, planned to join supporters during their rally and march.

Many of those supporters left for Springfield on buses from the Uptown, Lakeview, Woodlawn, and other neighborhoods around dawn Tuesday, hoping to convince lawmakers to approve legislation to allow same-sex couples to get married in Illinois.

“I’m a proud lesbian, and this is for my future, and for my community’s future, and we need to pass this already,” Debrah Goodman said before boarding a bus in Lakeview.

The Illinois Senate passed legislation to allow same-sex marriages in Illinois on Valentine’s Day, but efforts to pass the measure in the House have stalled.

Sponsors have been working for months to line up enough votes to send the measure to the governor, while opponents have significantly ramped up efforts to defeat the proposal.

Supporters said they’re hoping for a vote during the veto session in Springfield, which runs from Tuesday through Thursday this week, then another three days at the beginning of November.

“We think that there are a lot of House members who have very open minds about this,” said Mitchell Locin, spokesman for Equality Illinois.

Michael Humphries said he’s betting on a wedding in Illinois after the upcoming veto session. He and his partner have been engaged for a year.

Fellow same-sex marriage supporter David Pavlik said he’s hopeful sponsors will be able to get the votes needed during the veto session.

“I really hope that they’re sincere, and that they will really push to get it through this veto session,” he said.

Neil Greenwood said, “If this bill doesn’t pass, it’s time that we go to polls, and vote them out.”

As it’s written, the legislation would need 71 votes in the House to pass during the veto session, because it would call for an effective date of Jan. 1. However, sponsors could amend the proposal to push back the effective date until June 1, which would require only 60 votes for passage.

Sponsors also could wait to call for a vote until after Jan. 1, when only 60 votes would be needed for the law to take effect immediately.

Those who oppose the bill said they aren’t backing down from efforts to defeat the legislation.

Many African-American ministers have been lobbying black lawmakers to vote against the same-sex marriage legislation, including Bishop Larry Trotter of Chicago.

“We believe that marriage is between man and woman – not man and man, and woman and woman,” Trotter said.

Opponents have scheduled a prayer rally at the capitol on Wednesday.

Supporters and opponents both have been making rounds of robocalls and taking out radio ads to stake out their positions.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the chief House sponsor, has yet to say if he’ll call the measure for a vote during the veto session.

In the past, he has said he won’t call it until he has enough votes lined up to pass it, and the Windy City Times recently published a list of estimated votes, showing supporters and opponents in the House were virtually split, with more than a dozen lawmakers undecided.