Where does Illinois stand on same-sex marriage?

March 26, 2013 4:11:23 PM PDT
Flipping through a photo book of their civil union last year, Vernita Gray and Pat Ewert hope the next photo album is from their marriage.

"As many of us say, it's not if, but when, we would like to really, really quickly so Vernita and I have the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of a married couple," Ewert said.

Those marriage benefits include social security if a partner dies or hospital visitation rights. Gray is living with bone cancer, so those issues hit home.

"Part of the coming out process is hey, I'm an American citizen. I pay taxes, social security. I want to be treated like every other American citizen. That is marriage," Gray said.

Gray has been a gay activist since the 1960s. Her next big challenge is convincing state lawmakers to pass the same sex marriage bill. While it has passed in the Senate, it doesn't quite have the votes in the House.

"The votes are just about there, we have a couple people who are still thinking, but when we put it up we will win," State Rep. Greg Harris, bill sponsor, said.

Harris faces strong opposition from a group of clergy. Bishop Larry Trotter and other African American ministers are aligning themselves with other denominations to lobby hard against the bill.

"Even if we lost the fight, it needs to be on the record we spoke up for what we believe," Bishop Trotter said.

Trotter believes gay marriage is out of line with what is taught in scripture. For Gray and Ewert, the bill is about equality and not religion

"For those in our country who don't want gay/lesbian marriage, they don't have to get one," Gray said.