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.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    So I was wrong–I was certain that Hawaii would be ahead of Illinois and we’d have to go through a few more rounds here in Illinois before the Eeeevil Big City types could overcome the Noble Farmers from downstate.

    (Incidentally, the trope of wicked city vs. virtuous rural population has been around for centuries. The Tea Party hasn’t discovered anything new. Read The Mauve Decade.)

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Freedom. What a fantastic concept. Why don’t Republicans like it?

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Look out, Wisconsin! You’re (almost) surrounded!

  4. James Pearce says:

    Illinois…..F yeah!

    At this rate, we’re going to have to start keeping tracks of states where SSM is banned. It’ll be easier.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I was certain that Hawaii would be ahead of Illinois and we’d have to go through a few more rounds here in Illinois before the Eeeevil Big City types could overcome the Noble Farmers from downstate.

    How long do you think before those noble farmers from downstate decide they need to secede because their interests are not being represented in Springfield?

  6. Surreal American says:

    1980s Illinois Office of Tourism slogan:

    “Oh Illlinois, you put me in a happy state.”

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well, we’ve always had the grumbling from the rest of the state vs. Chicago. Although it’s more the case that both the “rest of the state” and Chicago gang up and hate Springfield.

    For all the gnashing of the teeth about Chicago and Chicago politics, there does seem to be an awareness on the part of the rest of the state that if it weren’t for Chicago, Illinois would easily become a bland lump of nothingburger and with little economic value.

    Rural doesn’t necessarily mean anti-science. Rural Illinois is more like Upstate New York than it is Texas.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’m just surprised we didn’t go a few more rounds of political Kabuki courtesy of the conservamedia complex fulminating over Teh Gayz. Looks like most of the politicians are going, yeah, we’re going to go for gay marriage at some point, let’s just go head and avoid more fuss. Big whoop.

  9. ernieyeball says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I have lived in Southern Illinois for 45 years. There have been more than a few calls for statehood in that time. As always it never goes anywhere because it is a stupid idea.
    No way the the counties south of Interstate 64 have a tax base that could support a new state.

    …virtuous rural population…

    HA! HA! HA!

    See Herrin massacre. The local cemetery is being excavated 90 years later looking for the bodies of the victims of this travesty in 1922.
    See Charlie Birger who was hung in 1928.
    More recently Barrett Rochman, a local entrepreneur, pleaded guilty to rigging real estate tax auctions and will spend a few months in prison.

  10. mantis says:

    Hey, our legislature finally accomplished something!

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @ernieyeball: Oh, indeedy. That’s why it’s so fun reading The Mauve Decade.

    Thomas Beer is an extremely sardonic observer of the US socio-cultural scene. It’s amazing to read The Mauve Decade and discover that the same tropes and stereotypes that we keep running into at present were all in place in the 1890s. (There’s one large gaping hole in his analysis–that of white/black racial issues–but since Beer wrote in the 1920s we’ll understand his lack of commentary.)

    His comment on Southern politicians rings just as true today: “Invoking Christ with the freedom of medieval kings in a brawl over the border.”

    I think it’s the first chapter that goes into the Wicked City vs. the Virtuous Rural Dweller trope.

  12. Argon says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: “Look out, Wisconsin! You’re (almost) surrounded!”

    Nuts. I keep forgetting about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Haven’t noticed the obligatory whining-and-gnashing-of-teeth screed from Rod Dreher yet, who will undoubtedly use this as Yet Another Example of how Teh U.S. Is Doomed!!!

    Talk about a set of pissy-pants. If being anti-gay is so important to him, why doesn’t he move to Iran?