I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night gay marriage died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was, glory be
Springfield, Illinois ---Amid excitement and fanfare on Memorial Day, Illinois Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) predicted that by the end of the week, the gay marriage legislation that passed in the state Senate on Valentine’s Day, would pass in the House. It was going to be a historic week.
Chicago Tribune reporters Monique Garcia, Rex W. Huppke and Cynthia Dizikes describe the excitement in the state:
For Illinois' gay marriage proponents, it was supposed to be a historic week culminating in a collective "I do" from Springfield lawmakers.
Thousands tuned in to social media and live streams throughout the day Friday, sending tweets and other messages of hope as they waited for the Illinois House to call a vote on the legalization of gay marriage. Gay couples who had traveled to the state Capitol were invited to view the action from the speaker's gallery. And during breaks, families paused to snap smiling pictures with sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago.
But as the hours wore on, the optimism and energy dissolved in the face of strong opposition from Catholic and conservative African-American church groups, leading Harris to rise on the floor and tearfully announce that he would not call the bill — there wasn't enough support after all.
His speech was greeted by the angry shouts of dozens of supporters who had been waiting all day to watch the history-making event.
"It felt like someone knocked me to the floor," said Robyne O'Mara, who has been in a same-sex relationship for the past three decades and took off work Friday to be at the Capitol. "They failed us."
Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Socarides weighed in:
Proponents of the bill reacted with shock, quickly followed by anger and some finger-pointing. Marc Solomon, the campaign director of the national-rights group Freedom to Marry, called the situation a “disgrace.” Jim Bennett, of Lambda Legal, which is suing in Illinois over same-sex marriage, called it “a stunning failure.” There has been a standing debate among advocates about whether, in cases like this, it is best to go ahead with a vote even if it is likely that it will fail: doing so has the advantage of putting lawmakers on the record, but it may give opponents a symbolic victory. In the end, Harris decided that a loss would be worse.
All of this proves how difficult passing same-sex marriage legislation continues to be in many places, and how patience and determination have proven to be the only strategies to consistently deliver results for marriage advocates. Many states with same-sex marriage laws now in place, like New York, went through unsuccessful legislative efforts first. The situation in Illinois is the same one that New York faced: in 2009, the New York legislature rejected a bill; it finally passed in June of 2011. The failure in Illinois is a reminder of just how hard fought the New York moment was.
Rep. Harris tearfully said "I have to keep my eye, as we all must, on the ultimate prize. We will be back and we will be voting on this bill during legislature, in this room."
The deadline for the bill’s passage was May 31st, 2013. House Speaker Michael Madigan extended the deadline to August 31, 2013, so there’s still a remote possibility that the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act could pass before summer’s end.
Then again, the US Supreme Court’s decision is just a few weeks away, and how they will rule is still anybody’s guess.
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved