Sorting Out The Impact Of The Gay Marriage Rulings

Jun 27, 2013

Rep. Bob Pritchard (left) Geoffrey Decker (right)
Credit, LinkedIn

Supporters of same-sex marriage in Illinois say Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings bolster their cause. But the court’s action doesn’t appear to be an immediate impact on the state.

Now that DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, gay couples who are legally married will get access to federal protections. But because Illinois doesn't have same sex marriage, couples here still can't. They can only access benefits offered under a state civil union law. Advocates say it will take time to determine exactly what this means for gay couples who live in Illinois, but were married in other states. They say the Obama administration needs to spell that out.

In the meantime, all eyes will be on Springfield. A bill that would legalize gay marriage has cleared the Illinois Senate, but hasn't gained enough support in the House.

Republican Representative Bob Pritchard represents the DeKalb-area. He voted against the civil unions bill in late 2010. But he acknowledges the magnitude of the court’s rulings.

“I’m sure this will be a momentum builder for it, and might encourage some legislators to switch their votes on the this issue" Prtichard said.

Pritchard wouldn't say whether the court's decision would prompt him to endorse the gay marriage bill.

Geoffrey Decker is a computer science faculty member at NIU.  This month, he got engaged to his partner in Paris, France.  Decker says they’re considering the short-term solution of a civil union. But he intends to contact his state representative about the bill pending in the House.

“We’ve sent emails and actually called Bob Pritchard’s office, and I think we need to take a more active, probably a personal bit of action, to ensure that the legislation is passed as soon as possible” Decker said.

Decker says that action might include volunteering.  Governor Pat Quinn has said he’ll sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk.