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Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Sent To Empty Committee

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Illinois has been assigned to an executive subcommittee with no members, and gay rights activists say it's as good as dead.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment SC0016 which was sponsored by state Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) and Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) would have amended Article XIII of the state constitution with a sentence reading, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in Illinois."

The proposed amendment was introduced by Haine on Feb. 10, and Bivins signed on as a co-sponsor a week later. The amendment was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee on March 3.

But on Tuesday of this week, the bill was sent to the senate Executive Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, which doesn't have any members or scheduled meetings.

Gay Chicago Magazine reports state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the chairman of the Executive Committee and a gay rights supporter, was responsible for the assignment.

Jacob Meister of the Civil Rights Agenda told the magazine the action amounted to "a classic move to sweep away a bill."

A similar bill is pending in the state House of Representatives. But it is currently bottled up in the state House Rules Committee, which is chaired by another gay rights supporter, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), Gay Chicago Magazine reported. Gay rights advocates believe that bill is also dead, the magazine reported.

A dozen other proposed constitutional amendments were also consigned to the committee on Tuesday.

Among the others was a proposed amendment by state Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) that would allow two or more contiguous townships to withdraw from Cook County and form a new county – as the Village of Palatine has been threatening to do for years over high Cook County taxes.

Another proposed amendment that was sent to the empty committee Tuesday would have required the state to implement a plan for universal health care by May 31, 2014. That amendment was sponsored by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin.)

Same-sex marriage is already banned by statute in Illinois. But a bill allowing for civil unions was signed into law by Gov. Quinn on Jan. 31, after being approved by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly in December.

Meanwhile, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is advancing in Indiana. On Monday, the Indiana State Senate approved the amendment by a vote of 40-10, the Indianapolis Star reported. The state House already approved the amendment by a vote of 70-26 last month.

For final approval, both houses must pass the ban a second time in 2013 or 2014, and the measure would be put on the ballot for the public in 2014.

Same-sex marriage is banned by statute in Indiana too, but supporters of the amendment have said it would provide an added layer of protection for traditional marriage.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.

California also began permitting same-sex marriage after a state Supreme Court decision in June 2008, but that decision was reversed when voters approved Proposition 8 five months later.

Proposition 8 was overturned in Federal Court on Aug. 4 of last year, but it remains in effect indefinitely pending appeal.

Same-sex marriage is banned by constitutional amendment in several states. Both same-sex marriage and civil unions are forbidden by the constitution in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.


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