Illinois passed the marriage equality bill, called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, through initial stages with a 34 to 21 vote on Valentine’s Day.
The Prairie State is now slated to be the tenth state plus the District of Columbia to pass a marriage equality bill. The legislation now needs to pass the Illinois House of Representatives, which will have the final vote in a few days.
Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition led by Lamda Legal, Equality Illinois, and the ACLU of Illinois, will continue its campaign in support of the bill statewide.
“We took the first step towards marriage equality two years ago when I signed civil unions into law,” says Governor Pat Quinn. “Since that day, thousands of committed couples in 92 counties across our state have entered into civil unions. Now is the time for the next step in providing equal rights to all people in Illinois.”
The bill had a “supermajority control” of the General Assembly from the Democratic Party, but also had support from notable Republicans such as Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady.
“Hey, fair is fair. For goodness sakes, if people want to get married, let them have the right to be in love and have family life and all that good stuff,” says Topinka during a television interview. “Go for it!”
Celebrity endorsements also poured out in support for marriage equality from Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and President Obama, with publications supporting the bill like the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, the Peoria Journal Star, the Springfield Journal-Register and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“The momentum is building. More and more House members are telling me they want to be on the right side of history and that they intend to support the bill,” said Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago). “Support for marriage equality is growing nationally and in Illinois, and we’re seeing that reflected in the mood of the House.”
While same-sex marriage is not popular in a few Midwestern and Southern states, the topic has gained momentum and support across the country.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of advocacy group Equality Illinois, said that “While this historic day is only half the battle, the Senate today put Illinois on the road to recognizing that, as President Obama said in his inaugural address, ‘the love we commit to one another must be equal.’”