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Disappointed gay marriage backers shed tears, point fingers — plot next move

Mike Catuar(left) talks about his feelings about lack vote Gay Marriage Bill as friend John Eckroth (right) Lakeview neighborhooL listensn

Mike Catuara (left) talks about his feelings about the lack of a vote on the Gay Marriage Bill as friend John Eckroth (right) of the Lakeview neighborhooL listensn near the corner of Belmont and Halsted on Friday.|Photo for the Sun-Times~By Judy Fidkows

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Updated: July 3, 2013 6:56AM

They had hoped to be present at a historic occasion.

But instead nothing happened.

Melle Hany, 31 and Brittany May, 30, both of Downstate Bloomington, sat in the House Chamber in Springfield all day Friday.

The two women were in tears when they found out no vote would be taken on legalizing same-sex marriage.

The couple, who have an 11-year-old daughter, had planned to be married in July if the legislation had passed.

“We were just hoping it was going to happen before our date,” Hany said, stopping to cry. “We just want a legitimate relationship in the eyes of the government.”

“We make coffee, we cook dinner,” May said. “We clean. We drop off from school, we pick up from school. We do the exact same thing that a straight couple would do.”

Other backers of the bill began to plan their next moves.

“Beginning tomorrow, we are starting over,” said Rick Garcia, Policy Director from the Civil Rights Agenda. “We may need to start over with a new sponsor, a sponsor who is not beholden to Mr. Madigan but a sponsor who will fight for the families here in Illinois.”

The finger-pointing had begun on Friday night with some activists blaming state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the bill who took off his glasses and wiped away tears on the House floor when he had to concede he didn’t have enough votes for the measure to pass.

In Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, John Eckroth and Michael Catuara heard the news as they were going out in hopes of celebrating the bill’s passage.

“It’s pitiful,” Eckroth said. “Already 12 states have it legalized, and we’re supposed to be a world-class state. It’s very depressing.”

His friend Catuara however was still optimistic. He said it’s not just the gay vote that will influence politicians, it’s the “family and friends” of gay people.

“It’s only a matter of time. There’s a lot of effective organizations out there that support politicians that are open to marriage equality,” he said. “Making sure politicians know that whether or not they’re going to be in office could be based on this issue — we have the power to influence that.”

Kevin Lewis of Lakeview also said the political pressure must continue. “It’s a shame it has to wait, but I think we have a great opportunity to take advantage of something with the momentum that’s going across the U.S. with this issue,” Lewis said. “People will look at it and say if you can’t support me on this issue why should I support you on other things?”

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