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Illinois

Illinois Senate committee approves marriage equality bill

Illinois poised to become tenth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A strict party-line vote Tuesday sent proposed gay-marriage legislation to the Democrat-controlled Illinois Senate floor for the second time in a month.

The Executive Committee voted 9-5 in favor of the plan despite Republicans’ concerns that it will force resistant religious organizations to open their parish halls and fellowship centers — if not their sanctuaries — to gays and lesbians seeking marriage ceremonies.

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), predicts the body’s 40-Democrat majority will find the 30 votes necessary to make Illinois the 10th state to give marital rights to same-sex couples. He wants a Valentine’s Day floor vote next week.

“Same-sex couples want to marry,” sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans said, “for the same reason we all do: For the common respect, commitment to families, the obligation and the benefits that come with marriage.”

Steans, also a Democrat from Chicago, shepherded a similar bill to the floor just after New Year’s — in the final days of the last General Assembly — but scuttled a floor vote when she couldn’t count on enough votes. She said a change in the language makes it clear that churches and other houses of worship will not be obligated to solemnize gay unions.

But Republicans remain concerned that religious organizations will be sued over shutting their doors to same-sex celebrations.

Sen. Dale Righter, through his questioning of the legislation’s supporters, was able to establish that those institutions’ obligations are covered by the state’s human rights law. The gay-marriage measure doesn’t address the responsibilities of any place deemed a “public accommodation,” and Righter (R-Mattoon), said the matter won’t be settled until expensive and time-consuming lawsuits are settled.

“Now we have to evaluate what public accommodations are for purposes of whether or not churches would be required to allow same-sex couples to use their facilities,” he said.

Republicans are realistic about their odds. Illinois public opinion has grown quickly in favor of gay marriage. President Barack Obama, an Illinois Senate alumnus, has publicly favored it. Four November ballot issues in other states approved of gay marriage or opposed bans on it.

Even the Illinois GOP party chairman came out for it last month. Many in the party acknowledge approval is inevitable and are hoping it moves on quickly and quietly without doing too much political damage to the right.

The state approved civil unions — legal recognition of a partnership between two people, regardless of gender — just two years ago. But gay-marriage supporters don’t believe it’s enough.

“People often unintentionally offer our relationship less respect because marriage is the standard in our society,” said Bloomington resident Danielle Cook, who is in a civil union with her partner of many years, Suzie Hutton. The couple has a 15-year-old son.

“Marriage is the standard for people to define a relationship based on love and common commitment,” Cook said. “Our relationship is a marriage.”

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29 more reader comments:

  1. This is great news!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:00pm
  2. It

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:00pm
  3. It’s about time

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:00pm
  4. Finally, my home state does something right!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:01pm
  5. GREAT !!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:02pm
  6. Yeahhhhhh;) Wisconsin are you listening?????????

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:05pm
  7. Woohoo! Good news!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:09pm
  8. Do it Illinois!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:10pm
  9. This means Chicago will win the 2014 Super Bowl!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:12pm
  10. awesome!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:12pm
  11. AWESOME!!!! Now we can get REALLY married. :) LOL

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:15pm
  12. Good! :) glad for them

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:17pm
  13. FANTASTIC!!! :-)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:17pm
  14. Great, and the beat goes on, guess Oprah will get blamed on this?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:23pm
  15. Come on Valentines Day! I need to marry my man!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:30pm
  16. Wow….it’s about time things start rolling, America! :) Keep on keeping on! How about ya, Florida????

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:36pm
  17. Oh, wait…I need a man first. Nevermind! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:36pm
  18. AWESOME

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:41pm
  19. love it….!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:47pm
  20. Brilliant!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:03pm
  21. Right on, about time.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:06pm
  22. If a place of worship can not legally refuse an interracial or racial minority wedding, they should not be allowed to refuse a same sex marriage. Let us not forget the dirty little secret that many fundamentalist Christians did and do consider any non-white inferior to themselves, and claim validation of this belief exists in religious edicts and tomes, such as The Bible and is the word and desire of their god(s).While this equality legislation in Illinois is undeniably an important step, it is still not good enough to stand the test of the future. Gay Americans are American citizens, end of discussion, and as a matter of law must be afforded th exact same rights, duties,privileges,obligations and responsibilities as every other American citizen, in every State and territory of this nation. These types of seperate but equal pieces of legislation are precisely why Federal legislation is needed, will happen at the Federal level, sooner rather than later. Not allowing gay Americans full citizen rights in every part of this country is akin to if The Civil Rights Act had left racial discrimination at the State’s discretion. Such legislated and accepted second class citizen status will not stand.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:30pm
  23. One step at a time… But seriously, DO NOT push them to perform the marriages!

    That starts to get into a VERY messy gray area where their LEGAL RIGHTS to practice religion as they see fit, are honestly being infringed upon.

    Just find a group that DOES respect you, and have the service performed there. Its a small concession, that would pay off in spades to get us the rights we do deserve.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:51pm
  24. pennsylvania needs to follow suit!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:51pm
  25. ^^well said^^

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:57pm
  26. The day Pennsylvania approves same sex marriage I’m gonna throw the biggest bash to celebrate but I’m not gonna hold my breath as that day I think is a way off

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 5:08pm
  27. Way to go Illinois.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 5:09pm
  28. The world is turning… i just saw this post from a FORMER WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH member: http://www.noh8campaign.com/article/former-wbc-member-speaks-out

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:02pm
  29. Churches can legally refuse to perform marriages they disagree with, including interracial couples, interfaith couples, or couples where one or both have been divorced. As it should be under the 1st amendment. No one sane should want to force bigoted religious groups to perform marriages. Government officials and public accommodations are another matter.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:11pm