Traditional marriage will remain intact in Illinois—for now, at least. The Illinois House of Representatives declined to vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage before the legislative session ended on Friday. Legislative sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D), announced that supporters did not have enough votes to pass the legislation.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, the Chicago Tribune reported that both sides targeted the 20 African-American legislators as key swing votes on the issue.
African-American pastors were especially active lobbying against the measure. The most well-known pastors made radio ads and voiced thousands of automated phone calls to African-American homes.
Reverend James Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago and a former state senator, asked his congregants to call their representatives, saying, “They are about to make the law of the land that a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman. I think it’s time for the church to wake up.”
NPR quoted African-American pastor Byron Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago as he spoke against the measure at a news conference: “We’re not standing against something; we’re standing for something … We’re standing for the Scriptures as they are written.”
Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor at Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago, said in the same report, “This law being passed would cause a great ripple amongst the faith community and it would reduce what we stand for.”
NPR said the three pastors lead some of the biggest congregations in the Chicago area, giving them a lot of political sway according to political analyst Laura Washington: “These ministers … have a lot of clout in their communities and their members listen to them and take advice from them.”
The measure also faced opposition from more traditional quarters. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Catholic Cardinal Francis George said the effort would “legally destabilize” the family, and weaken views on traditional marriage.
Though the bill is dead for now, the measure can be revived in November’s “veto session.” It would need 71 votes to pass at that point. Governor Pat Quinn could also call the lawmakers back for a special session later in the summer.