Lisa Madigan could suffer for father’s role in collapse of same-sex marriage legislation
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2013 5:54PM
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:51AM
SPRINGFIELD — Attorney General Lisa Madigan spent her political career crusading for equal rights for gays and lesbians but now faces an ill-timed and potentially damaging backlash within that voting bloc for the role her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, played in the collapse of same-sex marriage legislation.
That assessment by a top supporter of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act comes at a troubling time for the three-term attorney general as she considers a primary campaign for governor in a 2014 race where gays and lesbians could account for up to 10 percent of the vote.
Rick Garcia, policy director for the Civil Rights Agenda, said “unbelievably huge animosity” exists right now within the gay and lesbian community toward the House speaker, who despite being a supporter of the measure didn’t help round up votes or press for a vote to make President Barack Obama’s home state the 13th in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages.
“Generally speaking, the gay community really, really likes her,” Garcia said of the attorney general, whom he praised for her accessibility, her appearances at several gay events and her support for same-sex marriages.
“But at this point in time, with what happened in the last month, that is coloring people’s perceptions, and they want to punish the speaker,” Garcia continued. “ And what better way to punish the speaker than to go after the daughter? That’s the sense of some folks. I think she absolutely can survive that. But I think it’ll be very difficult.”
Despite a plea by Obama, himself, for the Legislature to pass the measure sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), it stalled under the speaker with no more than 56 votes, well short of the 60 that were needed to send the Senate-passed bill to Gov. Pat Quinn, who had said he would sign it.
Quinn has been a vocal supporter of Senate Bill 10, the same-sex marriage bill, since May of last year and stands to benefit most if the issue isn’t voted on and if gay and lesbian anger now directed at the Madigans persists, Garcia said.
“Up until last month, there might have been a slight edge within the [LGBT] community for Lisa, frankly, because people really, really like her. But because there wasn’t a vote and people are blaming the speaker, there’s some residual that hurts her. It’s not huge, but I think Gov. Quinn has the edge there, speaking now, early June,” Garcia said.
The attorney general told reporters earlier this month at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., that she has been a supporter of same-sex marriage for 15 years, dating back to her 1998 election to the state Senate. Separately, she is arguing in litigation before the Cook County Circuit Court that Illinois’ prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
In a statement, her office avoided any reaction to repeated questions from the Chicago Sun-Times about Garcia’s contention that gay and lesbian voters may take out their frustrations against her father on her if she chooses to run against Quinn and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley in next year’s gubernatorial primary.
“As everyone in the LGBT community knows, [Attorney General] Madigan has long been a vocal advocate in the fight for equal rights,” said Natalie Bauer, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.
“Throughout the last session, she worked closely with Rep. Harris to push for passage of the equal marriage bill, and in the final days of session, she spent many hours working the phones urging ‘yes’ votes,” Bauer continued. “Like other longstanding supporters, she was very disappointed that the measure didn’t have 60 votes to pass, but she is committed to continuing this fight.”