After passing the Senate after a groundbreaking debate, gay marriage proponents and opponents are waiting for the House to vote on the bill.
“The reality is that this is going to be a tough roll call,” said Kent Redfield, political scientist with the University of Illinois Springfield. “To get 60 votes you’re going to have to have some Democrats from competitive districts take some risks and you’re probably going to have to get some Republican votes from districts where they’re not competitive, but there’s potential someone may run against you in the primary,” he said.
While the bill is awaiting its final vote in the House, legislators are debating concealed carry, pensions and other issues.
During the legislative sessions in the last week of February, gay marriage was not addressed, although many groups traveled to Springfield awaiting a decision. Republicans used this time to prolong the process for it to be debated by the House.
A handful of Republicans added “notes” to the bill, which are used to request advice from state agencies on particular issues. This process can be used to acquire information about a complex issue, but those who oppose a bill sometimes use it as a stalling tactic.
Notes dealing with land conveyance appraisals, housing affordability impact, home rule and pensions were all filed by Republicans last week.
Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, filed a note examining the effect of gay marriage on land conveyance appraisals. When asked about the note, he said, “The purpose of the note was to make sure we all understood what the financial impact would be on neighborhoods with people who are involved in civil unions which may potentially become a gay marriage.”
Kay later contacted Illinois Times to say he was not affiliated with the land conveyance note and at the time he was not clear what bill he was addressing. Although Kay’s name is listed on the General Assembly website as the person who filed the note, he insisted he was not associated with it.
Redfield said adding the notes essentially slows down the process and it may be the Republican leadership filing the notes under someone else’s name.
He said the actions of the House reflect members being concerned about future elections. He said Republicans are concerned about the primaries and Democrats are concerned about the general election.
As of Friday all notes added by Republicans were found to not be impacted by gay marriage.
Rep. John Cavaletto, R-Salem, also had his named attached to a correctional note. When asked about the note he said he didn’t know why his name was attached to it. However, Cavaletto did say he does not support the bill. “My district is probably more conservative than it’s ever been and to be honest I don’t support it.”
Redfield said voting for such a controversial bill could cause political problems.
“You have 33 or 34 votes in the Senate and that’s a comfortable majority when you only needed 30, but you only had one Republican,” he said. “Now when you get to the House those same Senate districts are divided into two districts and there can be quite a bit of variation between those districts in the House.”
He said just because the senator voted for it doesn’t guarantee two votes from those districts in the House.
“If they had 63 or 64 sure votes they’d move on it, but it’s clear that they don’t have what they consider a safe roll call right now,” he said. “Right now all the negotiation is taking place behind the scenes and the sponsor will not call the bill until he’s confident he has 60 solid votes.”
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