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Harris Promises Gay Marriage Passage, but Can't Say When

By Ted Cox | July 2, 2013 3:36pm | Updated on July 2, 2013 3:42pm
 State Rep. Greg Harris says he's confident he'll have the votes to pass marriage equality — but when?
State Rep. Greg Harris says he's confident he'll have the votes to pass marriage equality — but when?
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The lead sponsor of the state House's bill on marriage equality insists it will be approved and become law, but he can't say when.

"The date is not up to me to set," state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said Tuesday.

It will not, however, be during any special sessions this summer, he added, as those are expected to be devoted to pension reform. Harris insisted he was confident that time is all that's necessary to win passage for same-sex marriage.

"When I put the bill up on the floor, I will have the votes," Harris said before a City Hall news conference on school funding. "When it goes up on the board, the votes will be there. It will pass and become the law of the State of Illinois."

Harris let the marriage-equality bill sit at the end of spring session of the General Assembly without calling a vote, a procedural measure that earned him criticism in the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual community.

"Things change every day as people evolve on this topic," Harris said, adding that he believes some representatives simply needed to return to their constituents and discuss the issue before voting in favor.

"Some people have been bombarded with a bunch of misleading communications," he said.

Harris also said a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions may act as a catalyst.

The Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act gives gay marriage momentum, he said, but the court's ruling against elements of the Voting Rights Act has also caused LGBT groups to unite with civil-rights groups "in sadness over that particular decision." Harris hoped that might undercut opposition from some African-American religious leaders in Chicago.

"This has changed the way people are thinking about how they should vote in Illinois," Harris said. "All of these events are just moving us in the right direction."

Harris said it was quite possible the proposal could come to a vote during the fall veto session. If they changed the effective date, he added, it would require a simple majority and not a supermajority at that time.

Marriage equality passed the state Senate earlier this year and has been awaiting passage in the House.