PI Original Angela Caputo Thursday October 1st, 2009, 5:24pm

Harris On Equal Marriage Act: "We Should Get It Done Now"

The legislative battle over extending equal rights to same-sex
couples had its share of ups and downs this past year. State Rep. Greg
Harris (D-Chicago) got things rolling by introducing two measures --
the same-sex marriage and civil unions
bills -- for the second ...

The legislative battle over extending equal rights to same-sex couples had its share of ups and downs this past year. State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) got things rolling by introducing two measures -- the same-sex marriage and civil unions bills -- for the second consecutive year. While the marriage proposal never made it out of committee, a growing number of lawmakers warmed to civil unions and the legislation gained some traction in the House. As the session drew to a close, however, it became increasingly clear that the bill didn't have the votes to pass. Harris went so far as hatching a plan to sneak the civil unions language into a shell bill that had already passed out of the Senate in hopes of keeping it alive. But the plan was foiled and the session ended with Harris vowing to try again.

In just the  few short months since, some high-profile Illinois politicians have vocally expressed their political support for gay marriage. And with Harris at her side, State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) announced today that she's hoping to build on that momentum by introducing the Equal Marriage Act (SB 2468), the Senate version of Harris' same-sex marriage bill. "This is a mainstream position, this is a moderate position, and it's the right position to have in the state of Illinois," Harris said. "We should get it done and we should get it done now." Watch:

Harris plans to keep his own civil unions proposal alive by reintroducing it in the veto session.  But as the Sun-Times Mark Brown notes the Chicago Democrat has no plans of backing down there:

[Harris] suggested that if the measure fails again, proponents may shift strategy next year and direct all of their efforts toward winning full marriage rights. After all, nobody's trying to hide the fact that's the ultimate goal.

"We're a family," Chicagoan Kelly Cassidy said at today's press conference, "and we're simply asking the government that represents us to recognize us as a family and give us the tools to protect our family." Listen to her account of how the current system discriminates against her, her same-sex partner, and their children:

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