Gov. Pat Quinn told the Daily Herald editorial board this week that "the votes are there" to legalize civil unions this year in Illinois. Equality Illinois' Rick Garcia made a similar proclamation in late August, suggesting it will be easy to get the bill (SB 1716) through the House when lawmakers return to Springfield in November for their annual veto session.
We're optimistic but skeptical. Often, lawmakers will agree to take care of tough votes during the veto session of election years, when there is ostensible cover both for lawmakers who win re-election and those who are leaving the legislature. In the case of the Illinois House, those promises aren't always kept. Supporters do have public opinion on their side; a large majority of Illinoisans support civil unions or full marriage rights. But until they tell us which 60 House members are prepared to vote for State Rep. Greg Harris' (D-Chicago) bill, it's no done deal.
Speaking of gay rights, Chicago mayoral hopeful James Meeks met with several LGBT leaders yesterday in Lakeview. The state senator, a well-known opponent of same-sex partnerships, is trying to atone for a blunder he made last month, suggesting he would only deal with LGBT issues "if bored." He said the conversation was "very fruitful."