State's Gay Marriage Bill Could Still be Called

House Speaker granted extension to Aug. 31

Backers of a measure that would've legalized same-sex marriage in Illinois on Monday wrote a letter to advocates saying it's not the time for them "to splinter."

It comes three days after the bill's sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago, decided not to call a House floor vote last week in the waning hours of the regular legislative session.

But before adjourning, House Speaker Michael Madigan signed an extension on the bill, giving legislators until August 31 to pass it. If Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports gay marriage, calls leglislators for a special summer session, the bill could be voted on then.

Harris' bill would have made Illinois the 13th state to allow gay marriage, but he said Friday he didn't have the votes to pass it.

"Several of my colleagues have indicated they would not be willing to cast a vote on this bill today and I have never been sadder such a request, but I have to keep my eye, as we all must, on the ultimate prize," Harris said, appearing to choke back tears. "They asked me for time to go back to their districts and reach out to their minds and hearts."

In Monday's letter, which Harris signed, more than a dozen House members apologized and said that marriage equality will happen. They urge advocates to come together, assess strategy and ramp up efforts.

The bill cleared the Senate in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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