As Illinois’ state legislature heads towards a final vote on marriage equality, and reports of the bill being about 12 votes short of passing, the state’s US Congressional delegation has issued a letter to the state representatives urging them to pass the bill and deliver full rights to LGBT people.
The delegation said in their open letter to lawmakers that the bill “will strengthen Illinois families by allowing individuals who love each other to enter into the joys and benefits of a legal marriage.”
The representatives include Danny K. Davis, Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.
“For many years, we have fought together for what we believed was in the best interests of our districts, our state and our country,” the Representatives wrote.
“You have the chance to provide recognition as well as basic legal protections to all Illinois families across our state.”
The letter points to the reality that half of Illinois residents support marriage equality, referencing a Crain’s/Ipsos poll that reported support at 50 percent and opposition only 29 percent.
Still, leaders say they are 12 votes shy of passing the legislation.
“From public opinion polls to letters and conversations with constituents, we are seeing a clear and rapid shift toward support for marriage equality. Put simply, the public has turned a corner on this issue,” the members of Congress stated in the open letter.
“Most Illinoisans believe we should not impose second-class status on one group of citizens – and they believe that government should treat all families with equity, fairness and respect.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also spoken out and called on Illinois citizens to push their representatives to pass marriage equality.
“If we’re going to pass this bill, it’s crucial that members of the House hear from marriage supporters every single day until the freedom to marry becomes law in Illinois,” he wrote in an e-mail sent to his supporters.
Passing the House floor is the final hurdle to securing Illinois as the 10th state with marriage equality.
The Illinois Senate passed the marriage equality bill, called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, through initial stages with a 34 to 21 vote on Valentine’s Day.
“We took the first step towards marriage equality two years ago when I signed civil unions into law,” says Governor Pat Quinn. “Since that day, thousands of committed couples in 92 counties across our state have entered into civil unions. Now is the time for the next step in providing equal rights to all people in Illinois.”