Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on
Wednesday signed a gay marriage bill into law, joining Illinois with
15 other states plus the District of Columbia that allow gay couples
The Democratic governor signed the
legislation during a signing ceremony before roughly 3,000 people at
UIC Forum, the 22,000 square foot open space at the University of
Illinois in Chicago.
Chicagoan Sami Grisafe opened the
ceremony with a rendition of the National Anthem accompanied by a
Politicians who spoke at the ceremony
included Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, Attorney General Lisa Madigan,
Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller of Illinois Judy Baar
Topinka, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor
Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senator Heather Steans
and Rep. Greg Harris.
“I am a proud Illinoisan today,”
Simon told the crowd. “It's time to stop planning rallies and time
to start planning weddings.”
Topinka, a Republican, thanked
Republican lawmakers who helped pass the marriage bill.
“It has been a long and bumpy road
getting to this place,” said Steans, who championed the bill in the
The accolades for Harris were frequent
and well deserved, with Quinn calling him a “great leader of
The 58-year-old openly gay Harris was
forced to retreat on the bill in May after making repeated promises
that he would get the bill over the finish line in the House.
Harris called the bill “a labor love
and a mammoth undertaking” in thanking numerous supporters.
Emanuel added: “We've realized to
have a forward moving state, you cannot have backward moving laws.”
Gay rights activist Patrick Bova
received a loud round of applause when he said that he and Jim, his partner of
50 years, can finally be newlyweds.
Before signing the bill, Quinn stated:
“Love never fails.”
In 2011, Quinn signed a civil unions
bill into law at an event that drew roughly 1,000 people to the
Chicago Cultural Center.
The Illinois Senate approved the
marriage bill on Valentine's Day. The House followed suit earlier
this month by a slim margin.
Passage in Illinois follows similar
gains this fall in New Jersey and Hawaii.
Gay and lesbian couples will be able to
marry in the state starting June 1.