No timetable for House vote on same-sex marriage

Lauren Leone-Cross

SPRINGFIELD -- The sponsor of a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage said Wednesday he doesn’t know when he might try to  bring the legislation to a vote on the House floor.

“I’ve not even gotten that far,” said Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago.

Harris also didn’t say whether he has the 60 votes yet to pass the legislation.

The proposal, Senate Bill 10, was approved by a House committee 6-5 Tuesday evening. All four Republicans and one Democrat on the panel voted “no.”

And even one of the “yes” votes, Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, said he wanted only to give his colleagues a chance to debate the measure on the floor. He said he hasn’t promised to vote for it again on final passage.

The measure extending marital rights to same-sex couples passed the Senate earlier this month with just one Republican voting yes.

Opponents said Arroyo’s reluctance to put his full support behind the bill is a good sign there’s not enough support.

“This is not as popular as some would have you believe it is,” said David Smith, director of the Illinois Family Institute.

Harris said he’s optimistic despite the narrow committee vote.

“It’s passed out of the Senate. It’s passed out of committee in the House. Clearly, the direction that the legislature is moving is the same direction of the people of the state of Illinois,” Harris said.

Smith said he thinks he and other groups that oppose the legislation will continue to work with undecided lawmakers.

Rick Garcia, director of Equal Marriage Illinois, said opponents have changed their arguments, from legal issues to what objectors say are the harmful effects children face with same-sex parents, Garcia said.

“Now that (the argument) of hurting churches doesn’t work, they bring out the children,” he said.

Jennifer Roback Morse, head of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute, said redefining marriage creates “structural injustices” for children. Same-sex couples do not make good parents, she said.

“Same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are obviously different with respect to this essential public purpose of marriage,” she said. “Treating different things differently is not discrimination.”

Harris said opponents have often made the same arguments in other states.

“I think the opponents will continue to use any argument that they can to oppose the underlying portion of the bill, which is to treat all families equally,” he said.

A number of major mental health organizations in the U.S. disagree with the opponents about gay parents, said Laura Berk, a psychologist at Illinois State University. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association have endorsed research findings that found lesbian and gay parents are as well-suited to raise healthy children as their heterosexual counterparts, she said.

If the legislation is ultimately approved, Illinois would be the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Lauren Leone-Cross can be reached at (217) 782-6292.