Illinois Set To Become 15th State To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
While other parts of the nation were conducting elections yesterday, Illinois was taking the final steps toward legalizing same-sex marriage:
The Illinois House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to wed, ending months of delay over the issue in the Capitol and clearing the way for Illinois to become the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to permit gay couples to marry.
The vote was 61 to 54, mostly along partisan lines, with only three Republicans voting yes.
“In Illinois, we tried civil unions and that separate status has time and time again proved to fall short,” said State Representative Greg Harris, a sponsor of the bill, urging his House colleagues to approve the measure on Tuesday.
The measure passed the Illinois Senate in February, but for procedural reasons it had to be voted on there again. On Tuesday, the Senate quickly approved changes the House made to the bill, sending it to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has said he will sign it. Illinois couples could begin marrying on June 1.
The outcome itself was perhaps less surprising than how long and difficult the debate had proved in a state with both legislative chambers controlled by Democrats and where President Obama, once a member of the State Senate, specifically voiced his support this year. Illinois already permits civil unions for same-sex couples, but even as a wave of state legislatures passed marriage provisions this year, the issue had stalled.
“We were aiming for this to happen a year ago,” said Bernard Cherkasov, the chief executive of Equality Illinois. In May, in the final hours of the State House’s regular session, a leading advocate of the bill reluctantly and tearfully announced that he would delay plans for a vote, suggesting that there were not yet enough votes to pass it.
“In many ways, it has taken longer than we expected,” Mr. Cherkasov said.
At the same time, the Hawaii legislature continues its work on its own marriage equality bill and will likely become the 16th state where gays and lesbians can marry within the next several weeks at the latest. Slowly, we’re edging closer to the day when states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage are going to start looking like the oddballs.