The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage, making it the fifteenth state to do so.
Illinois has approved civil unions between gay couples since 2011, but the support of gay marriage has reached a new height with the passing of this bill yesterday.
A bill requires 60 votes in the Illinois House to move on to the Senate. This bill received 61. It made its way through the Senate and went to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk, who has already been open about his plan to sign the bill if it were to ever make it to him.
The measure will go into effect this summer on June 1, joining three other states who legalized gay marriage this same year in May: Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota.
According to Bloomberg.com, Illinois’s passage of the bill means now that 35 percent of Americans live in a state where gay marriage is legal.
President Barack Obama released a letter on Nov. 5 celebrating the success for his home state, saying, “Our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.”
Among figures who publicly supported the bill were President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, Sen. Mark Kirk, and former President Bill Clinton.
According to NBC Chicago, Emanuel said, “The state should not be standing in the way of two people loving each other.”
Despite overwhelming support from some and the success of the bill, not all have been in favor. Rep. Thomas Morrison publicly opposed the bill on in order to “protect and strengthen real marriage.” Rep. Jeanne Ives similarly dubbed the bill “the worst bill in the country.”
Still, the gay rights movement is gaining acceleration across the country. Colorado recognized same-sex civil unions in March. Boy Scouts were allowed to be openly gay starting May 23. In June, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Gay couples began marrying in New Jersey in October. At the end of October, the Hawaii state Senate passed a marriage equality bill and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called for the National Guard to end discriminatory practices. On Nov. 4, the Senate pushed forward a bill that would outlaw discrimination against LGBT citizens in the workplace.
Illinois legalizing gay marriage this week is furthering the momentum of the gay rights movement in a big way. Gov. Pat Quinn proudly announced, “The Illinois House put our state on the right side of history.”
While many are feeling lighter on their feet because of this victory for the movement to legalize gay marriage, there is still a lengthy laundry list left for the gay rights movement to tackle. Fifteen states is a lot more than none at all ten years ago, but it is still only 30 percent of the country.