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State

Black churches key to Illinois gay marriage debate

SUMMIT (AP) — When a proposal legalizing gay marriage ramped up in President Barack Obama's home state, it seemed an easy deal. Democrats control Illinois state government and the pastor of his former church endorsed it with powerful testimony at the Capitol.

But fervor over the idea has rippled for months in that exact spot where faith and politics are inseparable — black churches. They've been deeply divided and become central in the debate. It's placed Illinois' black lawmakers in an uncomfortable spotlight.

There've been fierce campaigns on both sides.

That includes robocalls against it from former state Sen. James Meeks, the head of a Chicago megachurch.

A same-sex marriage bill cleared the Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn favors it. The Illinois House could take up the matter as early as this week.

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