SPRINGFIELD-Short of votes, supporters of gay-marriage and bans on military-style weapons and high-powered ammunition won't see their initiatives voted on Thursday in the Illinois Senate, leaving open the question of whether either issue will get a full Senate look next week.
Senate President John Cullerton's office issued a statement, saying that bi-partisan support was necessary for either issue to advance out of the legislative chamber and that more time was needed to round up votes.
"It is clear that we will need bipartisan support in order to take floor votes on gun safety and marriage equality this week," Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said in a prepared statement. "We will take some time to work on these important issues to advance them in the near future."
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the chief Senate sponsor of the gay-marriage legislation, told the Chicago Sun-Times that three key absences have hurt efforts Thursday to pass legislation legalizing gay marriage in Illinois.
State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) is in Israel. State Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa) is missing because of her mother's death, and Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D-Belleville) had a health issue arise involving a family member, Steans said.
Those absences, coupled with heavy lobbying against the bill from the Archdiocese of Chicago, leave her short of the necessary 30 votes she would need to get her bill out of the Senate before the chamber adjourns for the weekend.
A vote in the Senate Executive Committee on gay marriage was still expected Thursday, even though supporters expecting an 11 a.m. hearing waited more than two hours while the Senate occupied itself with a string of rambling farewell resolutions to departing members.
"The Executive Committee has been delayed," Phelon continued in her statement, "but we still intend to hold a hearing on marriage equality shortly."
Robert Gilligan, director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said Catholic leaders had discussed the possibility of Cardinal Francis George making direct appeals to legislators with personal phone calls, but Gilligan said it wasn't clear whether that had happened Thursday.
On Sunday, George urged Catholic parishoners throughout Chicago to reach out to legislators to pressure them not to vote for the gay-marriage bill.
Meanwhile, on guns, a floor vote was stymied for the same reason as gay-marriage: key absences.
Gun-rights supporters estimated that the legislation banning military-style guns and the ammunition that feeds them is perhaps three or four votes shy of the necessary 30-vote threshold to pass either one, despite a heavy lobbying push from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn.
No Republicans are for the gun measures, the gun-rights sources said.
But state Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), chief Senate sponsor of the ammunition bill, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Schoenberg's absence, as well as the absence of state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago), left him short of the support he needed to pass the ammunition bill on the Senate floor.