Gay rights groups: Bruce Rauner’s gay marriage referendum idea not constitutional

SHARE Gay rights groups: Bruce Rauner’s gay marriage referendum idea not constitutional
SHARE Gay rights groups: Bruce Rauner’s gay marriage referendum idea not constitutional

As he announced his run for governor or this week, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner said the best way to deal with the same-sex marriage question is by taking it out of the Legislature and putting the question to voters.

There’s a bit of a problem with going that route, gay rights activists say.

It would, in effect, do nothing.

“The only way there can be a ballot initiative is an advisory referendum, which would not be binding,” said Camilla Taylor, senior staff attorney with Lambda Legal, which has been in the thick of the legal and legislative battles to legalize same sex marriage. “It’s simply a statement of desire on the part of the voters for the Legislature to do something.”

Which puts the matter right back in the Legislature’s ball park.

There is a way to amend the constitution. That too, requires action by the General Assembly.

“The only way to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot is by passing both houses with a 3/5 majority,” Taylor said. If that passed both houses by a supermajority it then would go to voters.

That’s not what gay rights groups are seeking. They are arguing in court (the legal battle) that the Illinois constitution already can be interpreted as allowing for same sex marriage. The group, part of a coalition of groups to change the law, is also fighting to repeal a 1996 law that banned same-sex marriage.

“There is no need to amend the Illinois constitution from our perspective,” she said.

Clearly hoping to sidestep a dust-up with the far right of his party, Rauner would not say where he personally stands on the same sex marriage debate.

“My view is irrelevant,” Rauner told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. “Why does that matter? There are many issues that folks can disagree about. It’s OK. I would like the Republican family as the big family. We can disagree. We can have some fights, that’s OK. And stay unified on the most critical issues.”


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