On November 5, the state House of Representatives followed the lead of the state Senate, passing by a 61-54 vote a contentious same-sex marriage bill that had spent months in debate and consideration as activists on both sides of the issue lobbied lawmakers and hammered away at public opinion.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, whose 2010 campaign included a promise to push through homosexual marriage, exulted in passage of S.B. 10 and vowed to sign the bill quickly into law. “Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” Quinn said in a statement after the vote. “Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation.”
President Obama also applauded the vote of his home state's legislature, where he began his own political career. Obama claimed he “always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else.” Added the president: “As I said in my inaugural address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Upon the governor's signature on the bill, Illinois, which previously allowed same-sex civil unions but not same-sex marriage, will join the District of Columbia and 14 other states where same-sex marriage is legal: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
The vote came several months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had defined marriage as only between a man and woman for purposes of federal business. Legal observers predicted that the High Court ruling on DOMA would open the door to a parade of states legalizing same-sex marriage. Minnesota quickly passed a gay marriage law, and following the Illinois bill, Hawaii appears to be the next state set to legalize same-sex marriage.
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Photo of same-sex marriage supporters at a rally in Springfield, Illinois: AP Images