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Illinois Senate Passes Historic Gay Marriage Bill

On Valentine's Day, the Senate passed a marriage equality bill, making Illinois the 10th state to support gay marriage.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Illinois Senate early Thursday afternoon, making a happier Valentine's Day for gay couples across the state.

The Senate passed the bill—SB 10—with 34 votes in favor, 21 votes against and two abstentions. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where it needs 60 votes to pass. 

If passed, the state law defining marriage would be changed from an act between a man and a woman, to two people. 

Longtime LGBT ally Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-12th), who represents the Boystown neighborhood, said the importance of Thursday's vote cannot be overstated. 

“Today is a monumental and historic day not only for Illinois’ LGBT community and allies, but for the future of our entire state. By voting to approve marriage equality, the Illinois Senate reaffirmed our most basic commitments to fairness, justice, and a government free of discrimination," she said in a statement. 

Public officials are starting to put pressure on the conservative-leaning House of Representatives. 

"Gay and lesbian couples deserve full recognition of their relationships...I urge the House to pass this landmark legislation,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday. 

As of now, there's no timetable for a House of Representatives vote. Rep. Greg Harris (D-13) sponsors the movement on the House side, and is confident of its passage.  

"Absolutely. This will be on the governor's desk, and, hopefully, very soon it will be the law of the land," he told the Sun-Times.

The bill includes an amendment that says religious organizations cannot be forced to perform same-sex marriages. The Senate added that and another amendment clarifying that churches cannot be sued if they don't allow same-sex ceremonies in their parishes, according to the Associated Press

If passed, Illinois would be the 10th state to have a marriage equality law in the country. 

"I've been told it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when it's going to be done," veteran marriage equality advocate Rick Garcia, senior policy advisor at The Civil Rights Agenda, told the Huffington Post last week

But not all were in favor of the bill. Bishop Thomas Paprocki, of Springfield issued a statement saying Catholics who, "propose or promote the legal establishment of marriage as something other than the union of one man and one woman harm the common good of society."

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Dan Johnson February 15, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Equal treatment under the law as promised in the founding documents and required by the 5th and 14th amendments, should be a quick and easy process. There is no legitimate governmental interest served by denial of equal rights. Opposite gender couple families gain nothing, and same sex couple families are harmed needlessly. Time to pass equality and move on.
Dan Johnson February 15, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Marriage is a fundamental right of the individual. Fundamental rights may only be delayed or restricted when a legitimate and compelling governmental interest for doing so can be demonstrated. Reasonable restrictions include age, ability to demonstrate informed consent, and not being closely related, or currently married. Gender fails to provide a rational, legitimate governmental interest in restricting equal participation under the laws currently in effect.
Tony Pedretti February 15, 2013 at 10:51 PM
@AC While we sympathize with the spirit of your comment, as Dan very eloquently points out we need to respect the law and how it serves to protect. This includes supporting our legislators when reason and tolerance are threatened.
Ron Burgandy February 26, 2013 at 04:31 AM
The state is dead last in fiscal solvency and we have a pension problem that is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to address. If people want to be married more power to ya, over half of all marraiges break up anyway. Move on people and lets fix the real issues in this state.
Dan Johnson February 26, 2013 at 04:28 PM
If you are saying: lets pass this bill and move on, I agree. The arguments for denial of equality have all been exposed to be without merit. Irrational prejudice, based mainly on a few mistranslated and misinterpreted bible verses which are contradicted by more important verses telling us to treat others as we would ourselves, are all that remain. It is time to stop stalling the inevitable, and move on to issues that affect everyone.

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