Gay Marriage Third on Mayor's List of Priorities for Springfield

Ranking: Pension Reform, Chicago Casino, Marriage Equality & Gun Reform

It's been no secret that Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants marriage equality in Illinois. But what may be surprising to some is how passionate he seems about the topic.

The mayor on Tuesday listed it third -- behind pension reform and a Chicago casino -- in his list of priorities he'd like to see Springfield tackle in the upcoming legislative session.

"One is retirement security and pension reform so we can give taxpayers and the public employees retirement security, which is something we can't say today," Emanuel told reporters during a visit to Austin Polytechnical Academy High School to announce an investment in the school's manufacturing program. "Two, I was advocating, as have other people for 25 years, a casino for the city of Chicago, but one in which I've committed [that] all the resources will go into school modernization and building new schools and modernizing our schools so our kids will have the best facilities to learn in. Third, I will continue to advocate, as I have since a congressman, that we also pass marriage equality and end the discrimination on the books."

The state of Illinois has since June 2011 allowed residents to enter into a civil union, but that's not been good enough for many same-sex marriage supporters and the mayor.

"The time for marriage equality is now. The time is right and the time is here," he said, adding that he intended to become "very involved" in the issue to make sure it happens in Illinois.

Democrats now hold veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate, and Emanuel said that while Gov. Pat Quinn "has to be a part" of pushing for marriage equality, he's already started conversations with other state lawmakers.

"I’ve been in touch with ... State Rep. Greg Harris, State Rep. Deb Mell and leaders in both chambers,  so Illinois will now take the next step in making sure that our values are reflected in our laws," he said.

The "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act'' -- HB5170 -- was introduced last year but never came up for a vote.

Emanuel in January was one of 75 mayors from around the country who expressed support for the Freedom to Marry campaign.

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