The Illinois Legislature is soon to vote on a bill redefining car rental companies. While that might not seem newsworthy, a provision buried in the bill would legalize gay marriage in the state.
It’s a bizarre move for Illinois Democrats, but it may be an effective last-minute push for marriage equality in the state. While Illinois Democrats have been working hard to push a bill legalizing same-sex marriage through the Legislature, Republicans blocked a vote on the measure on Wednesday, according to the Windy City Times, a Chicago gay newspaper.
Now, the legalization of gay marriage has been attached as an amendment to House Bill 4963, a minor measure amending the state’s Collateral Recovery Act, thanks to its sponsor state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago.
The bill plans to “define ‘automobile rental company’” for Illinois and may end up granting marriage equality to the state as well. House Bill 4963 was already approved, so opponents cannot prevent a vote it.
While this tactic may buy time for marriage equality in Illinois, Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov says that proponents of same-sex marriage aren’t out of the woods yet.
"Everything can change at a moment's notice," Cherkasov told the Windy City Times. "It's still absolutely crucial that people contact their lawmakers."
"It's a technical way for us to get the bill moving," Rick Garcia, a policy adviser at the Civil Rights Agenda, a gay rights group, told the Windy City Times. "It's imperative that they contact their senator today."
While some Republicans in the Legislature are opposing legalizing gay marriage in the state, not all members of the Illinois GOP are against it. On Thursday, state party Chairman Pat Brady came out in support.
“More and more, Americans understand that if two people want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, government should not stand in their way,” Brady told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday. “Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value — that the law should treat all citizens equally.”
Besides Brady, President Barack Obama has also come out in support of gay marriage in his home state.