Illinois House fails to vote on marriage bill

On Friday, May 31, the Illinois House of Representatives failed to vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would have affirmed the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in the state.

The bill passed the state Senate in February with overwhelming support, and Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter, had vowed to sign it into law.

Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

After an overwhelming victory in the Senate, today's failure by the Illinois House is a disgrace, especially for the thousands of committed same-sex couples who want and deserve to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family and spend the rest of their lives with the person they love, protected and supported by their marriage.

Freedom to Marry is proud to be an active partner in Illinois Unites for Marriage, and is grateful for the groups that led the effort on the ground - the ACLU, Equality Illinois, and Lambda Legal. We also deeply appreciate the leadership of lead bill sponsors in the House and Senate, Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans.

Make no mistake, we will fight and make our case until all Illinois families have the freedom to marry the person they love and until the legislative vote reflects the solid majority of Illinoisans and Americans who stand for treating their neighbors the way they want to be treated.

Illinois Unites for Marriage, the coalition working to pass the marriage bill, vowed to continue advocating for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage across the state of Illinois. They released a statement on Friday where a representative from each of the leading members of the coalition reaffirmed commitment to passing the bill:

"It is very disappointing that gay and lesbian couples in Illinois will continue to be treated as second-class citizens. To postpone the vote any further is simply unacceptable," said Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal.

"The failure to call the vote today is disgraceful. In the time since this bill has been sitting in the Illinois House, three other states were able to pass marriage equality through their chambers. However, this proves that our country is moving towards the right side of history, and quickly," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

Ed Yonka of ACLU of Illinois said, "We are most distressed for the thousands of couples across the State whose lives and families deserve the dignity and recognition of marriage. We will continue to speak with legislators about the vital need to extend the freedom to marry for these couples. Our litigation filed a year ago this week also continues."

In 2013, three states have joined the ranks of states where same-sex couples can marry. These victories in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota were momentous steps forward, and we know that we must continue working to make the case for why marriage matters in every state - including Illinois. Freedom to Marry vows to continue fighting and making the case until all families and couples in Illinois can share in the freedom to marry.