A day after Speaker Michael Madigan pronounced the gay marriage bill 12 votes short, a group pushing the issue tried to recapture momentum by announcing support from seven Illinois Democratic congressmen --- even though they don’t get to vote in Springfield.
The letter, written to members of the Illinois General Assembly by North Side and west suburban U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, was the latest move by same-sex marriage supporters to try to step up pressure for a vote on the bill.
But it’s questionable whether the letter will advance the votes needed for passage in the Illinois House, where the Senate-passed measure sits. A day earlier, Speaker Madigan, who also chairs the state Democratic Party, said the measure was a dozen votes shy of the 60 needed to send it to a supportive Gov. Pat Quinn.
While Quigley has had a long history of supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians, the letter represents an unusual move by federal officeholders to delve into state policies.
In the letter, Quigley noted, “For some time now, people have been talking about the problems we face in Illinois, but it is time that we start celebrating what Illinois is doing right.”
Among the problems that Illinois faces is a serious financial crunch with a state income-tax increase set largely to expire in 2015. A Quigley spokeswoman said she did not know if the congressman had a position on whether the tax increase should be allowed to lapse.
The congressional letter came from seven of the state’s 11 Democrats in the 18-member delegation in Washington. The seven included three newly elected suburban Democrats — U.S. Reps. Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster — as well as veteran U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis and Luis Gutierrez.
Quigley aides said they would look into finding out whether the letter was prompted by support groups and to whom it was circulated.