By Nova Safo, CNN
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Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - Illinois lawmakers, emboldened by a new Democratic supermajority in the legislature, are considering legalization of gay marriage.
Advocates are confident a gay marriage bill introduced in the state Senate today will pass by mid-February. They are also working on building votes in the state House, and expect to pass the bill there before summer. Governor Pat Quinn has said he would sign a gay marriage bill into law.
Illinois State Senator Heather Steans sponsored the gay marriage bill:
[:53] “We’re sort of mirroring here in Illinois national trends. Public support for marriage has just been growing tremendously. Same thing in Illinois.”
Steans represents a relatively liberal district in the north end of Chicago. She says many of her constituents would be directly affected by the gay marriage bill:
[1:10] “This is one couple in my district, two moms – their child has kidney failure. They’re driving to the emergency room. They drop one of the moms and her son off, while she parks. She comes back in and is told she can’t go into the emergency room, because the real mom’s already there. And mind you, this is the mom who actually physically gave birth to the child. But because it’s another mom, she can’t be the real partner, and she wasn’t allowed in.”
Gay rights advocates say personal stories may be one reason that attitudes towards gay marriage are changing.
Even Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady spoke out in favor of gay marriage in January, urging legislators to vote for it. The move prompted open criticism in local news media from conservative Republicans, such as State Senator Jim Oberweis.
But with Republicans lacking the votes to stop the gay marriage bill, Oberweis seems more interested in moving on to other matters:
[3:19] “I hope that we resolve this issue sooner rather than later because the state of Illinois has some tremendous financial problems to deal with, which in my view is where we should be concentrating our focus and our time.”