Leader of Ill. Black Caucus signs on to support marriage equality bill

Ken DunkinAP

Ken DunkinAP

CHICAGO — The leader of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus has signed on to co-sponsor a measure that would authorize same-sex couples to marry in the state.

Rep. Ken Dunkin, the head of the 30-member group, announced his support for the legislation Tuesday. The Chicago Democrat says gay families living in his district are waiting for the state to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Ken DunkinAP

Dunkin says the legislation would provide equal protection under the law for all families.

“For me, this is about equality and equal treatment under the law,” said Dunkin. “I have always believed that discrimination is wrong, no matter whom it targets.”

“The families in my district include gay and lesbian parents who are raising children, just waiting for the state of Illinois to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Those families can no longer be regarded as separate and unequal.

“I support this legislation, because I believe it will help us move our state forward and provide equal protection under the law for all families.”

The proposal received Senate approval in February. Supporters say they are working to secure the 60 votes needed to pass the measure in the House.

“The support from Rep. Dunkin is crucial to the passage of this bill and shows our continued momentum on this issue,” said lead House sponsor Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago). “With more and more Representatives responding to the leadership of Rep. Dunkin, I look forward to marriage equality becoming a reality in Illinois.”

If the bill becomes law, it would make Illinois the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage. Illinois approved civil unions in 2011.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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