Illinois will be the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, after the state House and Senate approved legislation (SB10) today. Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign it into law, and same-sex couples can marry starting next June.
UPDATE: The governor says he'll sign the measure into law "pretty soon," but his office will take time to organize a big event.
"We’re going to make an arrangement so lots and lots of people can come to the ceremony," he said. "It's important to have an opportunity for people who worked so hard in the community to pass marriage equality, to have an opportunity to be there at the bill signing. This is what democracy is all about, people banding together for a cause they believe in, passing a law that makes our state a better place. And we'll have the announcement very soon about where and when."
When Quinn signed Illinois' civil union bill in January 2011, roughly 1,000 people attended, at the Chicago Cultural Center. It's expected he'll sign the marriage legislation in Chicago, too.
The House narrowly passed the legislation, 61 to 54, then sent it to the Senate for technical changes. The State Senate had originally approved same-sex marriage on Valentine’s Day, but the legislation had a tougher time in the House. Until today.
Representative Sam Yingling, a Democrat from Round Lake Beach, is one of a handful of openly gay state legislators. He talked about his partner and their three children.
"We are a family that is treated differently under the eyes of the law. We are a family that does not have the same protections that your family has."
Opponents say same-sex marriage violates their religious liberty and argued for keeping what they call "traditional" marriage. David Smith is executive director of The Illinois Family Institute:
“Illinois just took a terrible step to remove religious liberties for people of faith, and to punish people for their religious convictions, and will now be teaching children that homosexuality is good and healthy in our government schools.”
Smith says he intends to look for ways to challenge the measure, and launch a political action committee to go after vulnerable lawmakers who supported the bill.
Same-sex couples were given the right to legally unite in Illinois when civil unions passed in 2011.
Governor Pat Quinn released a statement praising passage of the legislation, saying it puts Illinois on the right side of history:
“I thank Representative Greg Harris and Senator Heather Steans, Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton, the dedicated advocates who have worked day and night to get this bill to my desk, and members of the General Assembly who took a stand for equal rights. Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation.”
In a news release, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the passage of Senate Bill 10 was a victory for the American principles of freedom and fairness:
“At its heart, marriage equality is about affording the same rights and responsibilities to all no matter whom we love. With the passage of this legislation, the House has rightfully acted to convey upon all committed couples and their families the dignity they have long deserved. I am proud of the House of Representatives’ historic vote today.”
DeKalb-area Representative Bob Pritchard voted against the measure. The Republican says after giving the matter careful consideration, he felt that certain traditions needed to remain intact.
"A considerable number of the people in this state believe the sanctity of marriage as being between a man and a woman. and it's because of that fundamental, traditional right that I voted to sustain our current policy."
Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Jack Franks of Marengo voted yes on the gay marriage bill because he says it was the right thing to do.
“The movement toward equality before the law has been the defining characteristic of the American experience."
Franks notes that the measure offers protections for religious institutions that don't want to recognize gay marriage.
How did your State Representative vote on SB10? See for yourself: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/98/house/09800SB0010_11052013_003000T.pdf