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Illinois

Illinois state Senate approves same-sex marriage bill

'It's a new day in the state of Illinois'
Thursday, February 14, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Prior to the vote, state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D) stood in favor of the measure to declare, “It’s a new day in the state of Illinois.”

The bill passed by a vote of 34 in favor, 21 opposed.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), called it “a vote for the history books.”

“We have the opportunity today to welcome all families in Illinois as equally valued,” she said.

Before approving the measure, the Senate attached an amendment Thursday that explicitly states no church or other religious organization will be forced to solemnize same-sex marriages. It also says churches cannot be sued if they don’t allow their parishes to be used for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign), was the only Republican to vote yes. He said he worked with Steans on the amendment before pledging his support.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” Barickman said. “It’s a vote that I understand some have varying opinions on, but I feel that I voted in the correct way.”

The Valentine’s Day vote marked the first time a marriage equality has passed on the floor of either chamber of the state Legislature.

Steans and other supporters tried to pass it during the January lame duck session. But after getting approval from a Senate committee, Steans opted not to call for floor action, saying it didn’t have enough votes.

Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting no, while two were absent and two voted present.

In addition to religious freedom concerns, opponents said Thursday they worried that the bill would change what children are taught in schools. Others said it would diminish the sanctity of marriage.

“People have a right to live as they choose,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon). “They don’t have a right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

Supporters said it was a matter of civil rights. Several lawmakers talked about family and friends who are gay and wanting to give them the same rights and protections that same-sex couples enjoy.

The legislation now heads to the state House, where, like the Senate, Democrats maintain a majority.

Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), said he “the prospects are very good” in the House, where he’s the bill sponsor.

If the bill makes it to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, Illinois would become the 10th state in the nation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Quinn, a supporter of marriage equality, applauded the Senate passage on Thursday, and pledged to sign the “historic” bill.

Thursday’s vote came two years after Illinois lawmakers approved civil unions, which provide legal recognition of a partnership between two people, regardless of gender. But same-sex marriage supporters called the designation “second class status.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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24 more reader comments:

  1. Happy valentines day!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:07pm
  2. thats awesome!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:08pm
  3. WooHoo

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:10pm
  4. About time.

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:11pm
  5. HOORAY EQUALITY : ) : )!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:11pm
  6. YAY

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:12pm
  7. YESSS!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:12pm
  8. What a great Valentine’s Day Present! :-)

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:12pm
  9. Wonderful News!! :)

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:12pm
  10. FINALLY!!! Only 40 states, plus federal to go!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:13pm
  11. Maybe Illinois will rub off on Indiana. Wishful thinking

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:14pm
  12. Come on Wisconsin!!!!!!!! Way to go Illinois ;)

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:15pm
  13. Come on Idaho!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:16pm
  14. <3

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:17pm
  15. They still need the house vote. Hopefully we see the same result.

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:20pm
  16. cmon IL, you can do it

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:23pm
  17. AMEN! GOD IS MOVING! HEARTS ARE CHANGING. MINDS ARE OPENING! TIMES ARE EVOLVING! SLOWLY – BUT CERTAINLY! Thank you, Illinois Senate!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:24pm
  18. plz Georgia be next

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:27pm
  19. I`m telling friend, thing are looking up for US!!!!! ;-)

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:35pm
  20. Alright Texas senate, you see how this works, follow suit!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:35pm
  21. Not that it makes a difference to me, but for those of whom want it!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:36pm
  22. All we ask is: Prop 8 doesn’t take away rights. It is intended to preserve traditional marriage. Gays are entitled to the same rights as married couples through domestic partnerships. They receive tax breaks, health benefits, etc, just like married couples.

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:39pm
  23. Ah, yes…”traditional marriage”…the sacred institution of God that people take two,three,four(+ in some cases) times in their lives-and often give up on as soon as the going gets rough,or one commits adultery on the other… In a church, under the ocean,jumping out of an airplane…its all so sacred! How about “traditional marriages(meaning a man and a woman,concubines aside) that dont live up to the “full expectation” of “traditional marriage” settle on a domestic partnership?what? that’s crazy? Washington state is floating a bill that is looking to make divorce petitioners wait a full year before it’s granted. I practically pissed my pants laughing at all of the people freaking out about government nosing into marriage. Wecome to our world is just about all I could think…Stay out of our rights to TRUE FULL equality and we’ll stay out of the hetero’s rights to marry & divorce at will. Live and let live. Any peson who think they’re doing God a favor by promoting keeping others down is probably going to have just as much explaining to do at the pearly gates as they think we gays are…

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 2:05pm
  24. Traditionally marriage involved virgins and livestock. And women married to strangers. Yeah, THAT’s what we want! The so-called traditional marriage everyone like to talk about isn’t more than hundred years or two.

    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 4:07pm