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updated: 2/15/2013 8:18 AM

Gay marriage vote on Valentine's Day?

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  • Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, has pushed for a Valentine's Day vote on gay marriage.

    Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, has pushed for a Valentine's Day vote on gay marriage.
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  • Video: Illinois Channel gay marriage

  • Video: Illinois Family Insitute


SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Senate todayonce again could debate giving same-sex couples the right to marry, but, as with an attempt a month ago, success isn't guaranteed.

The Democrat-controlled Senate has already given preliminary approval to the plan over the objections of Republicans, and Senate President John Cullerton has touted the idea of sending gay marriage legislation to the Illinois House on Valentine's Day.

A vote is not a lock for today, but the symbolism appears to be important to Cullerton.

"We're expecting a vote tomorrow," said Cullerton spokesman Ron Holmes on Wednesday.

It could be close.

Even though Democrats have a huge 40-19 advantage in the Senate and a 71-47 margin in the House, the party won't be fully united on the issue. More conservative downstate Democrats aren't expected to vote for it, and most Republicans oppose gay marriage.

Because supporters are likely to need just about every vote they can find, any lawmakers who are absent Thursday could complicate their efforts. Attendance issues in the Senate ultimately doomed an 11th-hour attempt to approve gay marriage before the new class of lawmakers was sworn in last month.

And the inability for the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly to move the issue last month shows how controversial it remains.

In the meantime, the Carol Stream-based Illinois Family Institute is helping arrange for people to go to Springfield next week and push back against the move, and clergy on both sides of the issue have been lobbying lawmakers, too.

"Things are really heating up in Springfield. The pension crisis? Illinois' financial trouble and inability to pay its bills?" reads the Illinois Family Institute website. "No, liberal lawmakers want to legalize homosexual marriage and have actually put it on a fast track."

Even if the Senate approves the measure today, the Illinois House would have to follow suit to send the legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Supporters believe they have momentum on the issue. President Barack Obama mentioned it in his second inaugural address, and Democrats made gay marriage part of their national party platform.

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