By Corinne Pinfold:
In a move that may save the state’s same-sex marriage bill from failure, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan quietly moved on Friday to extend the bill’s deadline to August.
On Friday, the legislative session of the Illinois House of Representatives ended. Same-sex marriage was one of the last issues due to be voted on.
The bill’s sponsor Greg Harris wept as he announced that, due to a lack of support, the bill would not be voted on. Mr Harris said he planned to lobby for the bill before the next legislative session in the autumn.
Andy Thayer, equal marriage activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, said House Speaker Mike Madigan was to blame for the “abject betrayal” of equal marriage supporters.
Saying that Mr Madigan’s sway would have been enough to ensure the safe passage of the bill, he also attacked Mr Harris for not calling the vote on Friday.
It has now emerged that Mr Madigan extended the deadline for the bill to August 31.
This makes it possible for Governor Pat Quinn to make a special legislative proclamation to hear the same-sex marriage bill in the summer, during a special session to be held to resolve pension reform legislation.
An unnamed lobbyist said: “It’s a fascinating move. It suggests that there is plan to get it done.”
Despite the appearance that the House wants to rescue the bill, there are numerous hurdles still to overcome and its passing is by no means guaranteed.
The Illinois Observer notes: “A deadline extension by itself resolves none of the political problems associated with the bill’s opponents, but it may give advocates an incentive to work to resolve them before summer’s end.”
House lawmakers would need to get Senate approval in order to change the effective date of the bill from “30 days” after being signed by the governor to 1 January. Otherwise, they would require a 3/5 vote to pass it – which would likely prove impossible.