CHICAGO (AP) — The second-ranking Democrat in the Illinois House has become the latest elected official urging lawmakers to support same-sex marriage as a matter of equality and as a boost for the state's economy.
Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie sent a letter to all House members earlier this month saying it's time to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. The letter follows a push in early September by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to lure Illinois' gay couples to wed in Minnesota, which legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year. Attempts to approve legislation have stalled in Illinois; A measure passed the state's Senate but the House sponsor didn't call a vote because he said he didn't have the votes.
"Illinois has been missing out on this economic opportunity long before Minneapolis' mayor unleashed his advertising campaign in our state," Currie wrote in the letter released Saturday.
Currie said the wedding industry is big business and Illinois is losing millions to states like Minnesota that allow same-sex marriage. She said it's also about ensuring everyone has the right to demonstrate their love.
Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel support same-sex marriage. Advocates have intensified efforts and are pushing for a vote next month, when lawmakers gather in Springfield.
"For whichever reason moves you, it's time we stop playing second fiddle to our neighbors and do what is best for our state ..." she wrote.
Opponents of the measure — largely religious groups and influential Chicago churches — have vowed to fight the measure, saying marriage should remain between a man and a woman.
Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011.