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Illinois Same Sex Marriage Bill Remains in Striking Distance

Illinois Same Sex Marriage Bill Remains in Striking Distance

Much work remains to be done at the capitol before Friday's adjournment, including a House vote on same sex marriage.

Much work remains to be done at the capitol before Friday’s adjournment, including a House vote on same sex marriage.

(Chicago) – Insider: The same sex marriage bill remains within striking distance, but, still, lacks the votes to pass the Illinois House.

A top Democrat told The Illinois Observer on Wednesday night, “The roll call is in the high 50s. It’s close; it’s almost there.”

The magic number to pass the House is 60.

The legislation, Senate Bill 10, received a big boost this week with a pledge of support from State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) who bucked the opposition of his powerful, local ministers.

The House Black Caucus and Latino Caucus have been the principal Democratic holdouts against the legislation sponsored by State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

Polling this spring in the districts of African-American legislators revealed overwhelming opposition by rank-and-file African-American voters.

Additionally, vocal opposition by black clergy has further frightened members of the legislative Black Caucus from publicly embracing the bill.

Some pro-marriage equality activists, who have been chafing at the Illinois House’s inaction this spring while other states have swiftly approved their own same sex marriage bills, have grown increasingly frustrated with House Speaker Michael Madigan, arguing that he only needs to “twist some arms” to get to 60.

“Madigan is loathe to force a member to vote against his or her district and to anger a majority of his or her constituents,” said an insider. “That’s how expensive primary challenges are created, which waste money needed to beat Republicans in the fall.”

The insider also noted that a string of controversial votes taken during the spring legislative session could ignite multiple primary contests for Democrats next year.

“The pension vote and the conceal carry vote have already exposed multiple Democrats to potential primary challenges,” said the insider. “A risky same sex marriage vote will just expand the pool of Democratic incumbents staring at a primary fight.”

And the insider noted the irony of the “twist some arms” attitude of activists.

“You know, this group and other groups always want Madigan to ‘twist some arms’ of lawmakers for their pet project and then they will turn around three days later and slam him for his ‘dictatorial’ control of the House,” said the source. “He can’t win.”

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Friday, May 31 at midnight.

“In 36 hours, a lot can happen in this place,” said the top Democrat.

Stay tuned.

davidormsby@illinoisobserver.net

Twitter @IL_Observer

(*Note to Political Insiders: The Illinois Observer also offers our exclusive, subscriber-only e-newsletter – The Insider – to, well, Illinois political insiders. Each Tuesday and Friday at 6:00 a.m. The Insider, whose Consulting Editor is Capitol Fax Publisher Rich Miller, arrives in e-mail boxes with the choicest Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago political gossip, insider information, and news tips. For more information and a free, 4-week trial subscription to The Insider, please go here).

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About David Ormsby

David, a Huffington Post blogger and an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party, is a public relations strategist in Illinois.

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