Same-sex marriage expected to be OK'd by Gov. Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn has indicated that he plans to sign a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois after lawmakers in the House and Senate both approved the measure Tuesday.

The House voted 61-54 to pass Senate Bill 10, known as the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The measure shortly after moved to the Senate, which voted 34-21 in favor of it, sending the bill to the governor. Quinn has said he plans to sign it into law as soon as he can.

The law would provide “equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities of civil marriage” to same-sex couples.

Most local lawmakers voted against the measure, including State Rep. Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia; State Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley; and State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville. However, State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, voted in favor of the bill. State Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, was absent.

State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, and State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, both voted against the bill when it went back to the Senate. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, voted yes.

Hatcher said her vote was in line with what her constituents have communicated to her.

“While many people in Springfield rely on professional, anonymous telephone polls, I prefer to trust personal conversations with the people I serve,” Hatcher wrote in an email. “Over 75 percent of the folks who have reached out to me and my office staff urged me to vote against gay marriage. My job is to represent them. I voted no.”

Illinois would become the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, in addition to Washington, D.C.

In February, the Senate voted 34-21 to pass the bill. It was never brought up for a vote in the House. Same-sex couples have been able to be united in a civil union in Illinois since June 2011.

After Tuesday’s votes, the White House issued a news release with a statement from President Barack Obama, who applauded the Illinois General Assembly for passing the measure. In the release, he stated that he and Michelle Obama “are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.

“Throughout this debate, [the General Assembly has] made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings,” the release states. “... 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.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, praised lawmakers in a news release for voting to pass the bill. He is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA.

“This is an important moment for civil rights in Illinois. I am very pleased that Illinois has joined 15 other states in allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry,” he wrote in a news release. “Everyone – no matter who they are, where they came from, or who they love – deserves equal rights under the law.

“Now it’s time to take action at the federal level by fully repealing DOMA and recognizing gay and lesbian marriage nationwide.”

Groups such as the Illinois Unites for Marriage organization championed Tuesday’s vote as a historic one.