Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he will sign the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act" into law if the House will vote on the bill before adjournment on Friday. Gay rights groups and even former President Bill Clinton are placing mounting pressure on House members to make the state the 13th in the nation to approve gay marriage.
Passage of the Illinois gay marriage bill would make the United States a "more perfect union" and will "strengthen the nation," Clinton said in a statement released by Equality Illinois on May 21.
Despite pressure from LGBT activists and the former president, who are pushing House lawmakers to vote on SB 10 that passed the state Senate in February, members of the Democrat-led House have managed to keep the legislation from coming up for a vote, and their actions are supported by black pastors and conservative groups that support traditional marriage.
Those who are opposed to the gay marriage bill claim that all of the rights the LGBT community is demanding already exist through the state's recognition of civil unions.
"The LGBT community needs to know that we've drawn a line in the sand," said Bishop Lance Davis, spokesman for the Chicago-based African-American Clergy Coalition, to CBN on Friday. "We're saying that enough is enough, and we believe they have the rights they were asking for through civil unions."
Members of the African-American Caucus in the House are split on the issue, according to a recent survey conducted by the Chicago-Sun Times, which shows that "less than half of Illinois House Black Caucus members say they back the push to legalize same-sex marriage or are likely to support it."
According to the Sun-Times, "four members of the 20-member caucus have said they will vote for same-sex marriage, while four others are leaning toward a 'yes' vote. Seven remain undecided and four are opposed."
When the gay marriage bill passed the Senate on Valentine's Day, Quinn applauded the work of LGBT activists and lawmakers for passing the bill. "[The] historic legislation will strengthen our state by allowing all committed couples to enjoy the same legal protections and benefits of marriage."
He continued, "The Senate took a stand for equal rights for all people. I urge the House to pass this legislation so that we can ensure Illinois is a welcoming place for everyone."
Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago joined with leaders of the African-American Clergy Coalition in their opposition to the gay marriage bill, which would change the state's legal definition of marriage from "between a man and a woman" to "between two persons."
Along with the AACC, Cardinal George has sent letters to House members asking them to vote "no" on the redefinition of marriage. The AACC has also worked to combat LGBT activists' media efforts through radio ads featuring local pastors who are encouraging Christians to call their representatives and ask them to vote "no" on the gay marriage bill.