In a vote that went 34 yes, 21 no, 2 present, and 2 abstentions, the Illinois Senate passed their marriage equality bill. It now goes to the Illinois House where it needs a total of 60 votes to pass. Should it pass, Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign it.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated in the wake of the vote that
“The freedom to marry the person you love is one that should be afforded to all citizens and, for too long, has been denied to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. When two people love each other, no government entity should stand in the way of letting them express that love. It is time that our laws reflect our values and I am so proud that on this Valentine’s Day, the Illinois Senate has voted to approve gay marriage. I commend Senator Heather Steans and Representative Greg Harris for their work on this and I urge the Illinois House to take up this bill in the same bi-partisan fashion.”
Rick Garcia, Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project, stated “This is an historic moment and demonstrates once again that Illinois is the land of Lincoln – fairness justice and equality for all. Just two years ago we thought this day was years away, but here we are and I am humbled to be sitting here today. This is an important step, but there is still more work to do. As we turn our attention to the House of Representatives we are working to make sure that they will pass it and the Governor is waiting to sign it.”
Not all Democrats are happy with the votes. State Senator Bill Haine and state Representative Dan Beiser have both filed to amend the Illinois Constitution to force marriage to be between a man and a woman. Haine claimed falsely that “The family unit is the most important part of our community. Strong families make sure that their children are taught good manners and are given the tools they need to succeed. Our community understands and values the traditional family, and I will continue to defend the values we hold dear.”
Beiser claimed that “There is a lot of discussion right now about changing the definition of marriage in Illinois, which would fundamentally alter communities across the state. Such a big change should not be pushed on the people on Illinois, unless they demonstrate that they want it. That is why I believe this issue must be brought before every voter. We must stand together and defend our values.”
The amendments would have to pass both the House and Senate by a three-fifths majority and be approved by 60% of the population. Neither of which seems likely.