Illinois marriage-equality efforts have taken a sharp turn, as proponents in the Senate opted to attach the legalization of gay marriage as an amendment to a bill regarding automobile rentals, rather than push for direct passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.
“Everything can change at a moment’s notice,” Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told the Windy City Times. “It’s still absolutely crucial that people contact their lawmakers.”
Senate Democrats had planned to introduce the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act yesterday but failed to garner enough votes for an immediate hearing. Sen. Heather Steans, the bill’s chief sponsor had indicated she was confident the bill would be introduced today. Steans hasn’t made a statement about the new plan, but the amendment to HB4963 was scheduled for a committee hearing this morning, and a vote could come later today.
Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage has pledged a quarter-million dollars to defeat any Republican senators who vote in support of same-sex marriage in Illinois. “Any Republican in Illinois who betrays the cause of marriage will be casting a career-ending vote and will be held accountable to their constituents,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We will spend whatever it takes — hundreds of thousands of dollars if necessary — to remove them from office.”
It’s kind of brilliant: Now Republican backers can just say they were voting for a car-rental bill.