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.
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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