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Gay Marriage Makes Headway in Illinois, Not So Much in Indiana

Recent developments in Indiana and Illinois reflect the tumultuous national mood regarding same-sex marriage. As the Illinois state Senate expects to vote on marriage equality legislation in the coming week, Indiana politicians announced today that they will stall a proposal to ban gay marriage and civil unions until 2014.  

On Tuesday an Illinois state Senate committee approved marriage equality legislation, paving the way for a full Senate vote scheduled to take place on or before Valentine’s Day. Many believe the bill will pass as members of both parties have publicly voiced their approval of marriage equality.

State representative Greg Harris (D) said, “The journey to full marriage is not going to be as long as we thought, because folks have talked to their neighbors, they’ve talked to their clergy people; they’ve decided treating every couple equally in the eyes of the law is the right thing to do.”

However, not everyone is on board with this fast track to approval in Illinois. Earlier in January, Illinois Republican Party chair Pat Brady riled many on the right when he urged senators to change their opinions on gay marriage. This suggestion has caused Brady much public ridicule, and some have even called for his resignation. Although Democrats hold a majority in the state Senate, the vote will certainly be close as the measure was never brought to the floor in January due to skepticism over whether it could pass. 

Today in an afternoon press conference in Indiana, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R) announced that they will postpone bringing the proposed ban on same-sex marriage to the General Assembly until 2014. "It's inadvisable to even have that discussion at the moment, despite the importance of the issue, until the Supreme Court has given a red light or a green light," Bosma said.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on two separate cases this summer, one regarding California’s ban on gay marriage ,and the other challenging the Defense of Marriage Act’s constitutionality. Since President Obama’s inaugural speech made history by championing the right of LGBT Americans to marry, the national tide seems to be turning in favor of marriage equality. Yet Indiana religious leaders and Republicans alike remain strongly against gay marriage and a delay in the vote will not stop the measure from passing in 2014. Since the proposal passed in both the House and the Senate in 2011, if an identical amendment passes both houses during the 2013-14 legislative session, we can expect to see the measure on the state ballot in 2014.

As the country moves further into Obama’s second term, gay rights seem to be an ever-present issue in the public eye. The Boy Scouts of America and immigration reform have both had to tackle the thorny issue in the past month. However, the future for same-sex marriage in both Indiana and Illinois remains uncertain as the weak economy and the Supreme Court decision this summer could derail the process. Furthermore even as approval of marriage equality seems promising in Illinois, if passed the measure would still have to be voted on by the House of Representatives, which is considerably more conservative.

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