The Illinois House finally passed marriage equality legislation in a close vote. The bill must now go back to a concurrence vote in the Senate, which is expected to easily pass.
BREAKING: A spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said the bill will be delivered to Gov. Quinn by tonight - @
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Marriage equality will soon be the law of the land in Illinois.
In a close 61-54 vote Tuesday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Three Republicans voted for the bill, Rep. Ron Sandek, Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr., and former Minority Leader Tom Cross. Two Chicago Democrats, Derrick Smith and Rita Mayfield, voted “present.”
The House gallery erupted in cheers when the final votes appeared on the board and Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s chief sponsor, was hugged and applauded by his colleagues.
“I think that the vote today really demonstrated basic American principles of freedom and fairness,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told BuzzFeed. “So now, all couples — regardless of who they love — will have the rights and responsibilities of marriage as equal families in the state of Illinois. I am very excited about that.”
The bill, amended earlier today with a new effective date, was easily passed again by the Senate to reflect the change in a 32-21 vote just after 5 p.m.
The bill will now go to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign it into law and is expected to do so any day now. As currently amended, the bill will go into law next summer and same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses on June 1, 2014.
In a statement, Quinn hailed the vote as a historic moment for the state.
“Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” Quinn said. “I thank Representative Greg Harris and Senator Heather Steans, Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton, the dedicated advocates who have worked day and night to get this bill to my desk, and members of the General Assembly who took a stand for equal rights. Illinois is a place that embraces all people, and today we are an example for the nation.”
Depending on when Quinn signs the bill, Illinois could become the 15th state to legalize marriage equality. Hawaii is debating a similar measure and Gov. Neil Abercrombie could potentially beat Quinn to it.
Rick Garica, who has advocating for LGBT rights legislation in Illinois for decades, received an unusual proposal moments after the bill passed: a proposal from his partner of over 32 years.
“Will you marry me in June 2014?” the text read.
“I just had hoped that we had the necessary votes there and was thrilled that we finally got it done,” Garica said. As for the proposal, Garcia said he was dumbfounded and floored.
He was standing next to Quinn, who congratulated him.
“I am still in shock, I think,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is amazing that so many Illinois families are finally equal after so much work and so much pressure that had to be put on legislators and I am just so proud to live in Illinois today.”