An historic day as the Illinois General Assembly approves marriage equality. Illinois has become the second state after Iowa to approve equal marriage in the nation's heartland. The state House narrowly approved the measure by a 61 to 54 vote with two voting present, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
The amended bill then went back to the Senate, which passed it 32 to 21 shortly after 5 p.m... Because [Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg] Harris changed the bill’s effective date on Tuesday to June 1, the measure needed only 60 votes – instead of 71 – to pass the House. It now must go back to the Senate for a final sign-off before moving on to the governor, who praised lawmakers for breaking the impasse on an issue that was near the top of his legislative priority list.
Harris also amended his legislation to give greater safeguards to private clubs, so they don’t have to sanction same-sex marriages. That was recognized as a nod to Catholic lawmakers concerned that organizations like the Knights of Columbus would be compelled to open their facilities to same-sex wedding receptions.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill as soon as tonight. The new law will become effective in June 2014.
The Senate approved its first marriage equality bill by a 34-21 vote on Valentine's Day.
Illinois became the sixth state to allow civil unions after Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the landmark Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act in January 2011. That law became became effective on June 1, 2011. Quinn is a strong supporter of marriage equality, and campaigned on the issue.
Fourteen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New JerseNew York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. Illiniois becomes the 15th state. Several counties in New Mexico and six Native American tribal jurisdictions also allow same-sex marriage.