Illinois votes to approve marriage equality

UPDATE from the Washington Blade: Illinois Senate immediately passes marriage equality bill, sending SB-10 to be signed by Governor Pat Quinn. The law will go into effect June 1, 2014.

The Illinois House voted today to approve same-sex marriage. The bill now goes back to the Senate where it has already been approved and then to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk for a signature, which he has said he will do. When approved, Illinois becomes the 15th state in the nation, plus the District of Columbia, to have legalized same-sex marriage.

From NBC Chicago:

The bill that passed the Senate this year had an effective date of Jan. 1 and required 71 votes, but Rep. Greg Harris changed the date to June 1 to require only 60 votes. SB10 must now go back to the Senate for another vote before Gov. Pat Quinn signs it, a move he already said he supports.

“It feels kind of obvious,” Rep. Ann Williams said during the debate leading up to the vote. “Why wouldn’t we treat everyone the same?”

“Discrimination will not endure,” Rep. Jack Franks said. Madigan quoted Pope Francis, saying “Who am I to judge?”

Rep. Thomas Morrison urged a no vote during the debate to “protect the institution of marriage” and “strengthen and protect real marriage.” Rep. Jeanne Ives called it “the worst bill in the country.”

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lamdba Legal which worked on the lawsuit seeking marriage equality in Illinois, issued this statement and noted “equality has a momentum” with the recent votes in New Jersey to approve same-sex marriage, the upcoming vote in Hawaii on marriage equality and yesterday’s Senate vote to advance ENDA:

Wedding bells will ring in the Land of Lincoln! Illinois will become the 15th state in the nation that will provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Across Illinois, same-sex couples and their children can celebrate a new era of equality.

Lambda Legal has been working hard to get to this day: From the day we filed our lawsuit in 2012, to all the legislative visits and testimony that our courageous clients provided for legislative hearings, to all the hours of drafting, preparation and technical support that our expert attorneys provided to legislators — this victory for same-sex couples and their families is sweet!

This was an enormous group effort, and Lambda Legal was proud to play a lead role in forming Illinois Unites for Marriage with our partners at the ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois, and many other advocates and allies who called, wrote letters and made visits to their elected officials. We all raised the voices of equality across the state — and we were heard.

Lambda Legal congratulates and thanks the bill’s sponsors — including Rep. Harris, Representatives Cassidy and Mell and Sen. Steans—along with co-sponsors Senators Koehler, Hutchinson, Harmon and Delgado. We also thank Gov. Quinn, Mayor Emanuel and other elected officials for their strong support.

Equality has momentum: On Oct. 21, New Jersey became the 14th state with the freedom to marry, following Lambda Legal’s victory after 11 years of litigation. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And soon, we hope Hawaii will approve a marriage equality law in the state where Lambda Legal litigated its first marriage case and the modern marriage equality movement began.

Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, released the following statement:

Today’s vote by the Illinois House means the Land of Lincoln will be our nation’s fifteenth freedom to marry state. This is great news for the thousands of committed same-sex couples in Illinois who will now be able to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family, protected and supported by their marriage. It also represents tremendous momentum, with another victory in the heartland and our sixth state victory in 2013.