Unless he sees something to make him change his mind, State Rep. Chris Welch will vote for marriage equality when the measure reaches the floor of the Illinois House.
Welch, who represents River Forest and Forest Park, told Wednesday Journal Monday he is leaning toward voting for HB 110, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.
Welch was interviewed shortly before the start of the River Forest village board of trustees meeting. He was at that meeting to present a state grant to the village government.
Welch said he campaigned on voting for marriage equality; he picked up an endorsement from Windy City Times, a Chicago-area gay newspaper in 2012, according to the paper’s website.
The bill’s counterpart in the IL Senate, SB 110, was approved in February, with Don Harmon and Kimberly Lightford voting for it. But the bill’s chief sponsor in the House, Rep. Gregory Harris, didn’t call the bill before the General Assembly adjourned at the end of May.
Lobbying efforts were strong in the intervening months. Welch said the issue arose a bit during town hall meetings. He said his office was flooded with email and telephone calls. Email, much of it from constituents, was running 3-1 for gay marriage; telephone calls, most of them from outside the district, were running 3-1 against the measure.
He said his position was bolstered by discussions with Harmon, Lightford and Rep. Camille Lilly, who also supports marriage equality.
“The (U.S. Supreme Court) decision (in June) on DOMA only strengthened my position,” he said. “This is a civil rights issue.”
Welch was referring to the high court’s ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Marriage equality may reach the floor of the Illinois House when the fall veto session convenes Tuesday. In advance of the opening, thousands of gay rights activists are expected to rally in Springfield.