No vote on gay marriage and one local backer is departing

New legislature considers measure without Saviano

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

The gay marriage bill seemed unlikely to make it to a final vote during the waning hours of the Illinois legislature's lame-duck session which ended Tuesday. And with a new legislature about to be sworn in, one sure local vote for the measure will be lost as Skip Saviano, a Republican from Elmwood Park, leaves Springfield after an election loss.

Three other local legislators will continue in the new session and have pledged their support of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. State Sen. Don Harmon and State Reps LaShawn Ford and Camille Lilly will back the bill according to a gay rights advocacy organization. State Rep. Kimberly Lightford reportedly remains undecided on the issue.

Harmon, the only legislator to return a call to Wednesday Journal, said he already voted in favor of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act during a meeting of the Senate Executive Committee last week.

The act would make Illinois the tenth state to legalize gay marriage, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Harmon said his support of marriage equality was not a difficult decision.

"It is a matter of fundamental fairness and it does not in any way intrude on the prerogatives of any church," Harmon said. He expected the matter to be voted on after Jan. 9, when the new legislature is sworn in.

According to an email from Randy Hannig, the director of public policy for Equality Illinois, Ford, Lilly and the departing Saviano also said they would vote in support of the act. Saviano was unseated by Democrat Kathleen Willis this past November.

As of last week, Lightford was still undecided. Lightford could not be reached for comment, and messages to the other legislators were not returned.

The state Senate failed to take action on the bill last week. Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), a co-sponsor of the measure, told the Tribune that members were missing from the Senate, which prevented them from having the 30 votes necessary to win approval.

On Jan. 9, the process starts over again, said Mitch Locin, a spokesperson for Equality Illinois.

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