Gay Marriage Vote Hits Snag

An expected vote on landmark legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois hit a snag Wednesday evening.

The issue was headed for an Executive Committee hearing before Senate Republicans rejected Sen. Heather Steans’ attempt to attach the marriage language to existing legislation. A spokeswoman said Senate Democrats will seek another bill and move forward Thursday.

Steans, a Chicago Democrat, has said she has enough Senate votes for approval of the legislation — the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act — but she also said timing is key because some supporters aren’t in attendance yet.

Marriage-equality supporters said the failure to get Senate approval for a procedural measure that would have allowed a committee hearing was a blip and will delay consideration only until Thursday.

And there is momentum. The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Pat Brady, on Wednesday gave his “full support” of the pending legislation.

But a day after influential Cardinal Francis George of Chicago denounced the idea as going against the “natural order'” of traditional marriage, a letter from 1,700 state religious leaders was sent to every Illinois lawmaker deriding claims that the proposal wouldn’t interfere with religious freedom.

“The real peril: If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations — regardless of deeply held beliefs —  will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations,” said the letter, penned by leaders of Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Mormon, Anglican, and Islamic faiths.

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