Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and
Representative Brad Schneider on Sunday applauded the start of a law
allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry in Illinois.
Quinn, a Democrat, signed the Religious
Freedom and Marriage Act – which went into effect on Sunday –
on November 20.
The law's official start is being
eclipsed by a federal judge's February ruling which opened the door
to marriage equality in 15 counties, including Illinois' largest
county, Cook County.
gay marriage law takes effect Sunday.)
“Starting now, everyone in Illinois
may receive the long-overdue rights of marriage,” Quinn wrote in an
op-ed published Sunday in the Windy
City Times. “Advocates had to jump hurdles, leap fences
and penetrate walls to make it happen, but we arrived at our
Quinn added that on this day he was
thinking of the late Vernita Gray, the gay rights advocate who was
the first to marry in the state.
“One person who made this day
possible was Vernita Gray. A tenacious activist, Vernita was loved
in the community and respected by politicians. She and her partner
made history when a judge ruled that, due to Vernita's declining
health, they could marry late last year – ahead of today's
effective date. Vernita passed away in March with her new wife Pat
[Ewert] by her side.”
“So today, I'll think of Vernita Gray
and others unable to witness this day. I'll think of happy couples
embarking on the adventure of marriage. And I will be proud to live
in a state where the will of the people can become the law of the
land,” Quinn added.
Schneider, also a Democrat, echoed
similar sentiments in a statement: “I’m proud that today, at
last, all loving couples in Illinois can share in the joys and
responsibilities of marriage. This was a hard-fought and landmark
victory for the cause of equality. I’ll continue fighting until
all loving couples, not just in Illinois but across the country, can
marry and make a life together. No matter who you are, you deserve
the right to make a public, loving commitment called 'marriage.'”