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Speaker Madigan: 'Good Chance' For Civil Unions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) - The top Illinois House Democrat laid favorable odds Tuesday that a push to give gay and lesbian couples the right to unite through civil unions would be approved by his legislative chamber.

"I think there's a good chance it'll pass," House Speaker Michael Madigan said, giving the initiative a significant boost.

Backers, including Gov. Pat Quinn, have set a goal of getting the legislation to the governor's desk by year's end despite opposition from socially conservative and religious organizations. The legislation would grants new spousal rights to same-sex partners in a civil union, putting them on par legally with heterosexual married couples when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions and accident and health insurance, for example.

But the legislation does not recognize same-sex marriages.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) is the sponsor for the civil unions bill, HB 2234.

Rick Garcia, public policy director of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, left for Springfield Monday to lobby for the bill. He told Gay Chicago Magazine on Tuesday his confidence has grown that the bill can pass the state Senate, but he thought the House was very close.

Garcia tells the magazine the bill was to be called when there are 60 votes in the state Senate and 30 in the state House.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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