Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk announced his public support for marriage equality. Equality Illinois, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization, urged Republicans to follow his lead.
“We’ve been trying to pass marriage equality since January,” Equality Illinois’s Director of Public Policy Randy Hannig told 429Magazine. “It’s very important that Illinois’ highest-ranking Republican officeholder came out in favor of marriage equality. It helps our argument with moderate Republicans.”
Kirk joins Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, Republican Chair Pat Brady and Illinois House Speaker Democrat Chair Mike Madigan in endorsing marriage equality.
“As Illinois’ highest-ranking Republican officeholder, Sen. Mark Kirk demonstrated today that he understands why the freedom to marry is so important for all loving couples,” said CEO of Equality Illinois Bernard Cherkasov in a press release. “When he said, ‘Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back – government has no place in the middle,’ Sen. Kirk cut to the heart of the argument.”
The Illinois House will consider marriage equality on their upcoming agenda.
“The bill passed the Senate in February and we’re a few votes shy in the House,” said Hannig. “With the Illinois House coming back from the Spring Break session, we want to hit the ground running and wrap it up.”
Governor Pat Quinn, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also join the long list of marriage equality supporters.
“With that kind of bipartisan backing, we expect the Illinois House to act promptly when it returns to pass the marriage bill,” said Cherkasov.
“The bill is fair to all who seek to protect religious rights while granting Illinoisans the freedom to marry the person they love. Sen. Kirk’s support should help Illinois House Republicans in particular understand why their support of the measure is the right thing to do.”
“[Kirk’s] support demonstrates that it’s okay to support marriage equality and allow others to be comfortable in the topic,” said Hannig.
Founded in 1991, Equality Illinois is “the state’s oldest, largest and most effective organization advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.”