Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicago, Chicago, That Tolerant Town

California and New York have both taken cracks at legalizing same-sex marriage, and 2012 looks to be the year the other big blue state in the nation -- Illinois -- considers laws to legalize it.

Less than a year since civil unions became legal in Illinois, a push to give same-sex couples the right to marry has emerged at the state Capitol with the support of high-profile public figures but also much skepticism that gay marriage will be approved this year.

The divisiveness of the issue was illustrated last week when Washington state's governor signed gay marriage into law and New Jersey's governor vetoed it. In Illinois, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several statewide officials back gay marriage, but the topic is replete with potential political repercussions that many lawmakers want to avoid during an election year.

The conventional wisdom in Springfield is that lawmakers will first focus on winning March 20 primary contests as they run in new districts and then attempt to pass a budget and escape the spring session taking as few controversial votes as possible.

"It's going to be a tough year to pass any legislation that's outside of budget and pension issues," said Sen. David Koehler, a Peoria Democrat who championed the civil union legislation. "It's going to more of an election-year agenda in the state Legislature."

And that battle last year for civil unions was a close, close thing.  I'm not sure this effort will end up going anywhere, but then again with Rahmbo twisting arms, who knows.  It would be another big boost in a blue state with a population of nearly 13 million in shifting the debate that allowing same-sex marriage does absolutely nothing to "threaten" existing marriages in the country.

We'll see how this goes.

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