Illinois Senate passes same sex marriage bill, headed for House

Jennifer White Contributor
Font Size:

This Valentine’s Day was a good one for same-sex couples and advocates of marriage equality in Illinois.

Illinois Senate advanced the bill for same-sex marriage on a 34-21 vote around 3 p.m. Thursday. The bill is now headed for the Democratic-run state House and a signature by Gov. Pat Quinn, a strong supporter of marriage equality.

If approved, the bill will change the legal definition of marriage in Illinois from an act between a man and a woman to two people. Illinois would then become the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The marriage bill’s sponsor, Sen. Heather Steans, Democrat from Chicago, called Thursday’s decision “a vote for the history books.”

In addition to advancing the bill, the Senate wrote an amendment Thursday which explicitly protects the rights of churches, places of worship, and religious organizations from being forced to perform same sex nuptials.

The advancement of the bill did not sit well with some GOP leaders in Illinois, who have raised concerns over whether the bill will impede on religious freedom.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady expressed that the Republicans must begin backing marriage equality if the party wants make it to the governor’s seat in 2014. Sen. Jason Barickman, Republican from Champaign, was the only Republican to vote yes in Thursday’s decision.

“Marriage equality is coming to Illinois,” Quinn said last week in his State of the State address. “We have moved Illinois forward, but we have much more to do. At this point, each and every one of us has a choice to make about what we want our Illinois to look like.”

Follow Jennifer on Twitter