As state lawmakers prepare to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, support has come in from coalitions of LGBT rights organizations, voters, hundreds of local clergy, President Obama — and now — from ABC’s Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Ferguson will join the push for passing the bill by traveling to Chicago and Springfield Thursday to lobby legislators, reported the Illinois Observer.
Ferguson will appear with his fiancé Justin Mitka at a press conference alongside Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and other same-sex marriage advocates Wednesday morning at the Thompson Center and then travel to Springfield to lobby support for the bill among legislators on Thursday, according to Simon’s office.
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“It is our responsibility to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law, and right now we have a group of citizens that we are treating as second-class,” said Simon in a media release. “Bringing marriage equality to Illinois is the right thing to do, and I appreciate the hard work by Rep. Greg Harris, Sen. Heather Steans and three-time Emmy nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson to bring much-deserved attention to this issue.”
Ferguson and Mikita recently launched Tie The Knot, a non-profit organization that sells unique bow ties and donates the proceeds to pro-marriage equality groups across the country. The ties can be purchased at The Tie Bar, a shop in Naperville, where Simon, Ferguson and Mikita will visit on Wednesday afternoon following the press conference.
“Justin and I are thrilled to be participating in Springfield’s Bow Tie Lobby Day. Drawing attention to the importance of marriage equality at this level is exactly why we developed Tie The Knot,” Ferguson said in the release. “We are also excited to see how the citizens and legislators of Illinois do with their bow tying skills.”
Early this month, Gov. Pat Quinn asked legislators to approve a same-sex marriage bill, evolving his stance on the issue from simply supporting civil unions, which the state implemented in summer 2011.
Days later, the chief sponsors of the bill, Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), announced they would bring it up for vote during the lame duck session beginning Jan. 2 now that they’ve closed in on securing enough support for its passage.
The bill needs 60 votes in the state’s House and 30 votes in the Senate to pass.
“I really think that there’s a national sea change that’s happening on this and I think it’s helped [other legislators] evolve on this issue,” Steans told Chicago Phoenix.
Nine states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages. Three states — Washington, Maine and Maryland — approved same-sex marriage ballot measures in the November elections.
Late last week, local LGBT rights and civil rights organizations including Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois, announced the formation of a coalition that will work to pass the bill early next year called Illinois Unites for Marriage.
Supporters of the bill are opposed by another coalition of anti-gay religious organizations, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Illinois Family Institute.