Governor Pat Quinn took many pens in hand this afternoon and signed the same-sex marriage bill into law. The signing ceremony was held at the University of Illinois - Chicago Forum, on a desk brought up from Springfield. That desk is said to have been used by President Abraham Lincoln to write his first inaugural address.
More than 2000 people attended the signing ceremony, according to Chicago Public Radio reporter Alex Keefe, and many waved tiny rainbow flags adorned with the silhouette of the state of Illinois. A number of the state's most powerful politicians attended and were among those receiving souvenirs -- a pen used to sign the legislation -- during the ceremonies.
Quinn says marriage equality was one of his top legislative priorities this year:
“This new law is an epic victory for equal rights in America. Illinois is moving forward. We are a model for our country. If the Land of Lincoln can achieve marriage equality, so can every other state in the nation.”
Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka was one of the few Republican politicians who spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage. She spoke at the signing ceremony.
"But history, I think, will show that we got it right on this one. No guff on this one. And I just wanna end by noting that I am available to be a flower girl and I'll even waive the fee."
Illinois is the 16th state to make same-sex marriage legal. When the legislature approved the bill this month, it appeared Illinois would be number 15, but Hawaii's lawmakers moved more quickly, approving their new law last week.
Same-sex couples still have a wait on their hands, though: the law doesn't go into effect until June First, although there's legislation in the works to move up the start date.
Civil unions are legal in Illinois. Couples currently in a union will be able to have their legal status changed to marriage if they choose.