SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Activists and supporters gathered Tuesday at the Illinois Capitol to demand immediate action on a measure to legalize gay marriage, five months after the legislation stalled in the Illinois House.
Hundreds turned out for the “March on Springfield,” with many waving signs and flags.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports the measure, opened the noon event in the Capitol rotunda. “This is our hour, this is our moment,” the Chicago Democrat said, describing the legislation as the “most important civil rights measure” facing the state.
Quinn was flanked by other top state officials, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Senate President John Cullerton. Not in attendance was House Speaker Michael Madigan, who supports the measure but has yet to have the bill called in his chamber.
“Speaker Madigan, put your House in order,” one sign read.
Earlier in the year a bill passed the state Senate but stalled in the House, where it needs 60 votes for passage. The speaker said in late September that about a dozen votes are still needed but gay marriage activist Rick Garcia says significant progress has been made, putting the number of “yes” votes around 55.
“We’re within striking distance but I’m not making a prediction because were promised this was going to happen in May,” Garcia told the Associated Press Tuesday.
Lawmakers are back in Springfield for the fall veto session. State Rep. Greg Harris, the legislation’s sponsor, said the measure wouldn’t be called today, but it could come up later this week or during the second scheduled week of session in November.
“I’m keeping an open mind,” he said.
Quinn says he’ll sign the legislation if it’s approved.
Illinois allows civil unions. More than a dozen states allow gay marriage.
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