A bill legalizing gay marriage in Illinois is headed for the Illinois House floor, where it needs 60 votes to go on to an eager-to-sign Gov. Pat Quinn.
The House Executive House Executive Committee passed the bill on Feb. 26. The vote, coming at about 10 p.m., was 6-5 and delayed by a long debate on gun control legislation.
Before the vote, the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ told legislators that Senate Bill 10 “allows for justice and equality for all families, without creating a situation of separate but equal.”
“We stand united and in solidarity in affirming the principle of equal protection under the law for all citizens of the United States of America,” Moss testified. “We believe that the values that ought to inform our public engagement as residents of Illinois are the principles that unite us rather than the beliefs that distinguish us.”
Kellie Fiedorek of the Alliance Defending Freedom testified against the bill. She said the measure did not protect religious freedom and promoted discrimination against people of faith.
State Rep. Greg Harris, the openly gay Democrat from Chicago who sponsored the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the House, said in a news release, “The momentum we are seeing on this legislation is truly inspiring. Illinois is very close to treating all of its families equally under the law. I look forward to bringing this to a full vote in the House.”
A recent Crain’s/Ipsos poll shows Illinoisans support marriage equality, with 50 percent in favor and 29 percent opposed. So do the major daily newspapers in the state, which have published editorials calling for passage of the bill.
The business community and faith community also have lobbied for the legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this month.
A coalition called Illinois Unites for Marriage – which is led by Equality Illinois, the ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal – has been conducting the statewide citizens’ push.
"The Illinois House of Representatives has to bear in mind that shortly it will be voting on a policy that affects the freedom of their fellow Illinoisans to be able to marry the person they love without interference by the state,” stated Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive officer of Equality Illinois. “We expect each representative to vote with the rising tide of history in favor of the bill."
The floor vote has not been scheduled, but it could take place as early as next week.