Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is wishing for gay civil unions by Christmas.

“The votes are there, I believe,” Quinn responded in a Daily Herald editorial endorsement interview. “In the Senate for sure, and definitely I think we can do it in the House.”

“I think we can pass it this year,” he added. “I would like to see it voted on earlier.”

Openly gay Illinois State Representative Greg Harris' civil unions bill passed out of committee in the spring, but lawmakers have yet to vote on it.

Harris and state Senator Heather Steans have also introduced bills that legalize gay marriage.

Supporters of civil unions, which give gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as marriage, point to polls that indicate stronger support for the unions than marriage.

Quinn, however, said he would back a gay marriage bill if “the voters of Illinois want to have it come to pass.”

Harris was less confident about passage of the bill, telling the paper that he wasn't certain if he had enough votes for the measure in the upcoming veto session, which starts on November 16.

Quinn's gubernatorial GOP opponent, state Senator Bill Brady, opposes any government recognition of gay unions and supports efforts to put an amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union in the Illinois State Constitution.

“I believe in traditional marriage,” Brady answered in an editorial board questionnaire. “Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”