Whether or not House lawmakers in Illinois vote on same sex marriage this week, those on differing sides of the issue have been working to make their case.
The group Illinois Unites for Marriage has organized phone banks to target state representatives who’ve not made up their mind or who have not announced how they will vote.
One such phone bank was held in Macomb at the home f Brian Powell and Molly Selders. About 12 volunteers helped out. They included teachers, farmers, and retirees.
“I think what really unites the people here tonight is that they think this is a matter of justice. And they’re willing to give up a couple hours of their evening, give up their time, in the name of justice,” said Powell.
The volunteers started by calling voters in the district of State Representative Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville), who has not publicly stated if she will support or oppose the bill. Their goal was to find 30 voters willing to be transferred to Hatcher’s office and leave a voice mail in support of marriage equality. The met that goal after about an hour.
The volunteers’ own lawmaker, Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), has already said she will vote against the measure.
“I vote – not just on this bill but on any piece of legislation – the will of the majority of my district,” said Hammond. “Generally my district, which is all or part of eight counties, is four-to-one in opposition of it.”
The Illinois Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day. The measure has yet to come up in the House as Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) works to ensure there is enough support before calling it for a vote.
Among the most outspoken opponents to same sex marriage in the state is the Illinois Family Institute. The group organized an opposition rally at the statehouse in October.
Laurie Higgins holds the title Cultural Analyst with the organization. We wanted to find out what the IFI's position is on same sex marriage.
The Illinois Family Institute has been given a dubious title. The Southern Poverty Law Center has placed the Illinois Family Institute and others on a list of "hate groups." Higgins questions the criteria used in adding her organization to the list.
"What they really hate is we have moral beliefs about what constitutes moral sexual actions, what determines what marriage is, things like that," she said.