Mayor Emanuel signs Illinois marriage equality petition

Credit: Iowa Democratic Party

Credit: Iowa Democratic Party

The Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal, an LGBT law and civil rights group, announced Wednesday Mayor Rahm Emanuel has signed the organization’s petition to support the fight for same-sex marriage rights in Illinois.

“Mayor Emanuel has been on the forefront in advocating for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Illinois, we’re very pleased that he’s taken the step of signing the pledge to show his support for our efforts to bring marriage to Illinois,” said Jim Bennett, regional director for the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal.

Emanuel has long supported LGBT rights, and has previously stated his support for legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. Last November, the mayor said passing marriage equality legislation is is No. 3 priority in the Illinois General Assembly and that he would work with the bill’s chief sponsors and other lawmakers to get it done in early 2013.

Just last week, the chief sponsors of the bill, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), reintroduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the House and Senate, respectively, after time ran out on their effort to move the bill forward in the lame duck session early this month.

The lawmakers and proponents, including Lambda Legal and other members of the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, are ramping up the campaign to get it done in the Spring session of the 98th General Assembly, beginning Feb. 5.

Along with contacting state legislators to demand support for the bill, Bennett asks that people join the mayor in signing the petition.

“We urge everyone in Illinois who supports our freedom to marry to join Mayor Emanuel and sign the pledge and learn what you can do to bring marriage to Illinois,” Bennett said. “Join the Illinois Unites Campaign — we all need to be involved as we move forward with our efforts in the Illinois Assembly to pass a marriage bill.”

In addition to advocating for the marriage bill in the state legislature, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois are also heading up a legal challenge to state law, which prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages. The two groups represent 25 gay and lesbian couples throughout the state who were denied marriage licenses.

A status hearing on the lawsuit is set for March 8.

“These are exciting times in Illinois and the momentum is with us,” Bennett said. “It’s just time!”