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Public leads the Supreme Court on gay marriage

Cook County Board President  Toni Preckwinkle throws beads crowd while marching Sunday June 30 2013  Chicago's 44th Annual

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle throws beads to the crowd while marching Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Chicago's 44th Annual Pride Parade. | Stacia Timonere-for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 2, 2013 6:54AM

Even the Supreme Court of the United States gets it.

The SCOTUS double thumbs-up for same-sex marriage shows even the justices understand that a vote for gay marriage is a vote for justice.

Last Wednesday, in a two-fer for gay rights, the Supreme Court ruled that married, same-sex couples should receive the same federal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. And the court declined to decide a California gay marriage case, effectively allowing same-sex marriages there.

Legal arguments aside, they got the memo. In a scant few years, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and, yes, transgenders are rapidly gaining acceptance.

Today, 55 percent of Americans say same-sex marriage “should be recognized as valid,” according to a recent poll by CNN and ORC International taken June 11-13. In 2008, 44 percent of respondents backed legalization.

The court’s timing was exquisitely serendipitous. LGBT communities around the nation were already deep into their annual celebration of Pride, commemorating the June 28, 1969, police raid at Stonewall, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. The raid set off what is now known as the Stonewall riots. It was a turning point in the gay rights movement.

Forty-four years later, the movement wields Pride to showcase its political, cultural and economic clout.

In Illinois, the Supreme Court ruling means it may be early summer, but the heat is on. The night of the decision, LGBT activists marched through Chicago’s Boys Town. The boisterous crowd strode for blocks down North Halsted Street. Numbering in the hundreds, the crowd was part celebration, part campaign, striding down North Halsted Street. A sign read: “Mike Madigan, send Gov. Quinn the bill!”

A month ago, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act failed in the Illinois General Assembly. The measure would make Illinois the 14th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Instead, it was kicked into the fall session. Many in LGBT circles blame House Speaker Mike Madigan, the all-powerful Oz of Springfield.

At Sunday’s Pride Parade, hundreds of thousands of revelers eyed the politicians who strolled, waved and floated through Lake View to woo the crowd. While the pols promised their undying love, LGBT couples retorted, “Where’s the ring?”

In other words: You want our vote? We want our law.

State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) also got the memo. In the past, she has been a harsh critic of same-sex legislation. Then, after the court ruling, Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times that she is now “much more inclined” to vote for it. Davis noted that gay couples in other states will now have access to federal benefits that Illinois residents won’t enjoy.

The clock is ticking. The Legislature and the state’s top office holders are headed for re-election campaigns in 2014. Some electeds will face competitive contests in the March primary.

The partying is over in Boys Town. The gay-rights movement is ready for real action. And unlike the Cubs, they won’t wait ’til next year.

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