Mayor Rahm Emanuel ranked gay marriage No. 3 on his list of priorities for the State Legislature Tuesday, placing it behind pension reform and approving a Chicago casino, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
In addition, Emanuel said he would get “very involved” with leaders in Springfield in passing a gay marriage bill.
First and second on the mayor’s wish list: retirement security through pension reform and building a new casino in Chicago that would bring in tax revenue for public schools.
“Third, I will continue to advocate that we also pass marriage equality and end the discrimination on the books. Although the state of Illinois now has civil unions, the time for marriage equality is now. The time is right, and the time is here,” the mayor said, according to the paper.
A civil unions bill was passed in late 2010 and signed into law in June 2011, allowing Illinois same-sex couples much of the same state-level benefits as married couples.
Emanuel went on to say that he has been in touch with both Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago), two openly-gay lawmakers who plan to spearhead legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Illinois. Harris introduced a marriage equality bill in the General Assembly in Frebruary, but it has since been stuck in the House Rules Committee.
The lawmaker signaled approval of the mayor’s commitment to equality.
Harris and Mell have recently said that they won’t submit a gay marriage bill in the General Assembly until they know they’ve got enough votes to pass it — 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate.
This morning, an op-ed by Emanuel appeared in Sun-Times in which he elaborated on his support for gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry.
“Today, we must take the next step on that journey by affording the opportunity to marry to all Americans — and we can continue that march by quickly enacting marriage equality here in Illinois,” he wrote. “The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have a special place in our nation’s history as leader in our nation’s struggle to equality to all. Marriage equality is the next step in our nation’s march forward. Illinois must lead the way.”
And last night, Emanuel honored new inductees into the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame.