Illinois Gay Marriage: Supreme Court's DOMA Decision May Push State Pols, Advocates Hope

Though the Supreme Court's Wednesday move to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional -- and to allow legal same-sex marriages in California to resume -- will not a direct immediate impact for many gay and lesbian couples in Illinois, advocates there are still hopeful the historic decisions will be a shot in the arm of their own marriage equality push.

Though the end of the Illinois legislature's spring session came and went last month without a House vote on a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the land of Lincoln, gay marriage supporters say the Wednesday news "underscores the fight for the freedom to marry" in Illinois, the Associated Press reports.

"We're going to take that message to the lawmakers in our districts," LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois' CEO Bernard Cherkasov told the AP.

Beyond that, the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA is good news for same-sex couples living in Illinois who legally wed in other states and will now be able to file joint taxes, receive Social Security survivor benefits and take advantage of other federal benefits, the AP notes.

Some of the most vocal and visible supporters of the push for same-sex marriage in Illinois took to social media Wednesday to applaud the Supreme Court's action on DOMA, a federal law that had allowed restricted federal marriage benefits for same-sex couples legally married under state laws.

Illinois' same-sex marriage bill was approved in the state Senate in a Valentine's Day vote before it stalled in the House, shocking observers when it was pulled from consideration on the last day of the spring legislative session as its chief sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, said he wanted to give his colleagues more time to consider the measure. The bill will now likely not be up for a vote again until the fall veto session in November.

Harris, a Chicago Democrat, told the Chicago Phoenix Wednesday he is thrilled by the Supreme Court rulings and added it "sends a clear signal to my colleagues that there is no rational reason for our laws to treat one set of families with less respect than others.”

Marriage equality supporters plan to rally and march in Chicago beginning at 7 p.m. to celebrate the Supreme Court decision while still rallying for full federal marriage equality in all U.S. states including Illinois. The rally will be held at the intersection of Roscoe and Halsted in the heart of the city's Boystown neighborhood.

For their part, Illinois opponents of same-sex marriage were disappointed in the Supreme Court's Wednesday decisions.

“The Supreme court sidestepped the main dispute that has been gripping the country about the main purpose and nature of marriage,” Peter Breen, an attorney with the anti-gay marriage Thomas More Society told the Chicago Tribune. “It threw it back into the state legislatures, giving full power to state legislators to grant or deny federal rights or benefits to same-sex couples.”



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