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Why Illinois Gays Prefer Pat Quinn's Style

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Why Illinois Gays Prefer Pat Quinn's Style

Gov. Pat Quinn just received the endorsement of Equality Illinois, the state’s leading gay rights organization.

Rick Garcia, the group’s political director, says the endorsement came for obvious reasons.

“[Gov. Quinn] believes, as we believe, that we have a chance to pass civil unions this year,” Garcia said (and Quinn’s spokeswoman, Mica Matsoff, confirmed this.)  “If the Equal Marriage bill comes to his desk, he would sign it.”

Quinn may support both ideas -- a civil unions bill that passed the senate earlier this year and a Equal Marriage bill that hasn't made it out of committee --  but the differing ideas have decidedly different fortunes in the Democratic controlled statehouse.

The Equal Marriage Act likely won't pass because its such a polarizing issue -- granting gay couples full marriage rights.  But the Civil Unions bill, which would essentially grant gay couples hospital visitation and inheritance rights but stop short of considering them married has a real chance to make it all the way to the governors desk.

So far the bill, which would give full marriage rights to gays, has failed to make it to the floor of the House or Senate, but Equality Illinois feels like it has a real chance to come to fruition.The state senate passed a civil unions bill this year, Garcia said. The bill has also passed out of committee in the House, and awaits a vote by the full chamber.

“The speaker strongly supports it, as does the president of the Senate,” said Garcia, who predicts that even some Republicans will vote for civil unions.

Quinn's opponent, Bill Brady, a stalwart opponent of the idea, has introduced a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Illinois, and would veto the civil unions bill.

What Equality Illinois doesn't want is a legal fight over the proposed legislation. 

It has discouraged the types of lawsuits that have led to pro-gay marriage decisions in Iowa and California.

“We are avoiding the courts and recommending this be done legislatively,” Garcia said. As a result, “I think we’ll see other states that are closer to gay marriage than Illinois.”

Over all that's because Illinois isn't hyper about the issue one way or the other.

“Illinois is a moderate state, and being moderate, you don’t see people being riled up on social issues,” Garcia said. “We don’t have these anti-gay groups focusing on Illinois, nor do we have gay rights groups focusing on Illinois. We don’t have millions of dollars pouring in for TV ads. We are certainly not leaders on it, but we’re certainly not like Alabama, Florida or Kentucky. We’re going to take this slowly but surely.”

Related Topics Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, Gay Rights
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