The State of Illinois took a huge step forward today in becoming the next US State to legalize same-sex marriage. By a vote of 34-21, the Illinois Senate approved a bill that would make their State the 10th in the US to enjoy marriage equality. There is still a big hurdle to overcome before the marriage equality bill can become law. Even tho IL governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill into law, it must next be ratified by the Illinois House of Representatives … where its passage is not assured. BUT, the GOOD NEWS today on this Valentine’s Day is that the Illinois Senate has voted in favor of marriage equality … which is a BIG win for love!
The Democratic-led Senate delivered a Valentine’s Day victory to gay and lesbian couples today, passing legislation for the first time that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois. The gay marriage measure now goes to the House, where the fight is expected to be tougher. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The 34-21-2 Senate vote represents a turnaround of sorts after advocates unsuccessfully sought to push a gay marriage bill through last month’s lame-duck legislative session. Supporters vowed to try again quickly with a new General Assembly that featured even more Democratic seats in both chambers. Under the measure, marriage officially would be changed in state law from an act between a man and a woman to two people. The legislation explicitly says nothing in the proposed law would force a religious denomination or minster to “solemnize any marriage.” People in civil unions would be able to convert them to gay marriages within a year of a same-sex marriage law going on the books in Illinois. While advocates have brought forth a lengthy line-up of religious leaders who have endorsed same-sex marriage, Catholics and other church groups have provided fierce opposition. They have argued same-sex marriage goes against the basic tenets of the Bible, which call for marriage to be only between a man and woman. Two years ago, Illinois legalized civil unions for straight and gay couples. Sen. Heather Steans, who sponsored the measure, argued the legislation is needed because it is time for Illinois to eliminate the “second-class status” of gay and lesbian couples … Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, called this particular Valentine’s Day a “day of celebration,” saying support for gay marriage is a decisive action to break down barriers that have prevented some Illinois citizens from getting the justice they deserve. “This is a bill that is a defining moment here in this state,” Sandoval said, asking “why is it so wrong?” to help lifte partners share insurance and retirement benefits. Lashing out at Catholics and other church officials that strongly opposed the legislation, Sandoval said, “our religious leaders have failed us.” He argued the greatest message that Jesus left his followers was to “love one another” and that the legislation would help fulfill that vision–an interpretation disputed heavily by clergy and legislative opponents.
While there is still a battle to be fought in the House, I am really feeling the love from Illinois today. Love wins … love will always win. I have a good feeling that love will win in Illinois and then, eventually, love will win in the rest of the country as well. This is amazing news, I’m sending all my love to the Illinoisans who have worked tireless to win marriage equality for their State and wish them much luck for the next stage of this battle for same-sex marriage.