Illinois House passes freedom to marry bill

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On November 5, the Illinois House of Representatives passed the freedom to marry bill with a vote of 61-54. 

“That was the biggest hurdle we faced to secure marriage equality in Illinois,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for LGBT people.

The state Senate, which passed the bill earlier this year on February 14, must now agree with the House version of the bill, which was amended to change the date in which it would go into effect and to clarify language exempting private clubs that do not want to host marriages for same-sex couples.

After the Senate approves the amended bill, which they’re prepared to do before the evening is over, the bill will head to the desk of Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn has promised he would sign it, making Illinois the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. 

“Today’s historic marriage vote was a victory for all families and their children,” said Cherkasov. “It was a victory for hundreds of clergy who joined forces in support of the law, and for scores of major employers who made the business case for equality, and for parents who just wanted all their children to be treated the same.”

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans. Cherkasov also mentions the help of “Governor Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Culerton, Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, numerous other public officials, members of both parties, leaders of the faith, business, African-American and Latino communities and sports figures” who all contributed to the victory. 

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