When you put your mind to it, you can achieve just about anything!
[UPDATE: Find out who voted how after the jump.]
Thanks to hundreds of calls being made by people all over Illinois and all over the nation, the Senate panel in charge of overseeing SB 1123 rejected the discriminatory amendment to the bill, and sent the anti-gay set packing out of Springfield. The vote was very close: seven to six with one abstention. I'll update this post with the official roll later today.
"This is a huge victory for the LGBTQ community and families across Illinois," Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda, said in a press release late Wednesday morning. "This is also a huge win for the tens of thousands of children that are in the adoption and foster system and need loving families. We applaud the members of the Executive Committee that voted no on this bill. They have shown that discrimination in any form is unacceptable." Full disclosure: I sit on the Advisory Board for TCRA.
All good news, but the question remains, however: why did the historically pro-LGBT sponsor of the civil unions bill, Democratic Senator David Koehler, push this horrific amendment in the first place?
In another press release, CEO of Equality Illinois Bernard Cherkasov called this victory a bipartisan effort.
"We have reached out to numerous organizations to oppose this bill, and many have gone on record in opposition, from Child Care Association of Illinois to Chicago Bar Association to Anti-Defamation League. We are also grateful to many of our partner organizations, such as ACLU, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Protestants for the Common Good, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, and many others who participated in the aggressive effort to defeat the discriminatory bill."
Bilerico's own Yasmin Nair had the roll call over at Windy City Times:
"Yes votes: Christine Radogno ( R-41 ) , Dale A. Righter ( R-55 ) , Matt Murphy ( R-27 ) , David S. Luechtefeld ( R-58 ) , Bill Brady ( R-44 ) , Antonio Muñoz ( D-1 ) .
No votes: Don Harmon ( D-39 ) , Ira L. Silverstein ( D-8 ) , M. Maggie Crotty ( D-19 ) , Jeffrey M. Schoenberg ( D-9 ) , Kimberly A. Lightford ( D-4 ) , John J. Cullerton ( D-6 ) , Donne E. Trotter ( D-17 )."
The Illinois LGBT community owes a great debt of gratitude to Rep Greg Harris who sounded the alarm on this and put himself at odds with colleagues from his own party - long-standing allies like Sen Koehler even - in order to do what was right and defend his community.
I have a lot of questions, and I'll be addressing them soon. But I must say that, for now, I am very very pleased to call this a great victory!