Illinois on Tuesday became the 15th
state to legalize gay marriage.
The marriage bill approved stalled out
twice – in the Senate in late 2012 and in the House in May –
before finding sufficient support to clear both the House and the
Senate in one day.
With one vote to spare (61-54) the
House approved the measure and sent it to the Senate, which approved
the measure on Valentine's Day, for a procedural vote. Governor Pat
Quinn, a Democrat, has pledged his signature.
Within hours, the measure also cleared
the Senate with a 32-21 vote.
The first weddings will take place in
Illinois approved civil unions in 2011.
But pressure mounted in June to provide full marriage after a
Supreme Court decision led to federal recognition of the marriages of
gay couples, leaving those in a civil union out in the cold.
“To treat all our citizens equally in
the eyes of the law we must change this,” Rep. Greg Harris, the
bill's champion in the House, told colleagues during a floor debate
that lasted more than 2 hours. “Families have been kept apart.”
The measure received a boost this week
from House Speaker Michael Madigan's lobbying efforts.
Opponents have vowed to line up primary
challengers against lawmakers who voted for the legislation.