Illinois passes marriage equality

Illinois+passes+marriage+equality

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

On Nov. 5, the Land of Lincoln was victorious. The Illinois House of Representatives passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Act, which will allow same-sex marriage to be legally
 recognized within the state. Illinois is now on course to become the fifteenth state to allow gay
 couples to wed.

Approving the bill 61-54, lawmakers have had a rough time getting the legislation passed. The measure made it through a House committee last

spring, but did not receive enough support to be put to a vote before the session ended in May
. The bill will now go back to the Illinois Senate for a final vote. The Senate approved the previous version of the bill on Valentine’s Day
.

The House vote primarily
 stay
ed within party
 lines. Three Republicans voted in favor, 11 Democrats against it and two voted present.

“I am so thrilled that they
 finally
 passed it,” freshman Spencer Clark said. “I think it has been a long time coming and it is another huge step towards total marriage equality
 in the United States.”

Currently
, the only
 states that recognize same-sex marriage include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Mary
land, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey
, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Washington D.C. also recognizes same-sex marriage.

Millikin students and faculty
 have been eagerly
 waiting for this moment. A number of students participated with Office of Student Success Learning Resource Specialist Rene Verry
 at the marriage equality
 march in Springfield on Oct. 22.

“I am proud that the call for justice, fairness and liberty
 so eloquently
 written in documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution was heard and answered by
 the 98th Illinois General Assembly
,” Verry
 said. “Civil liberties, so basic and essential to the quality
 of like and security
 of all humans, have historically
 had to be wrestled from those in power who would limit the freedom and opportunity
 of others for their own benefit. I am

overjoy
ed to stand with friends, families, loved ones and allies in the LGBTQ community
 to cheer. Justice has been well served by
 providing civil liberties for all Illinois citizens to be able to legally
 marry
 the person they
 love.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who stood on the House floor as the legislation was considered, has persistently
 stated he would sign the bill into law once it was passed. Quinn, a Democrat, supported the legislation since it was first introduced earlier this y
ear by
 Sen. Heather Steans and state Rep. Greg Harris. He signed Illinois’ civil unions bill into law in 2011.

In a statement reported by
 the “Advocate,” Quinn said, “The Illinois House put our state on the right side of history
. Illinois is a place that embraces all people. We are now an example for the nation.”

Senior Chet Lord-Remmert agrees.

“This is a historical day
 for Illinois,” he said. “I am overjoy
ed for all Illinois couples who will now have their love recognized by
 the state. The citizens of Illinois, LGBTQ and ally
 alike, demonstrated the power of love for months and our legislature finally
 responded in kind. I am proud to be an Illinoisan today
.”

Reported by
 the “Windy
 City
 Times,” Harris, the chief sponsor of the marriage equality
 bill, addressed the House and said that Illinoisans in same-sex relationships had moved from a second-class to a third-class status since the February
 Senate vote, as in the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key
 section of the Defense of Marriage Act making the federal government recognize same-sex marriages.

The bill has gained numerous prominent supporters including Chicago may
or Rahm Emanuel, U.S. senator Mark Kirk, former president Bill Clinton and incumbent president Barack Obama. Illinois’ House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is considered to be one of the state’s most powerful politicians, was making calls to House members encouraging them to vote y
es.

Quinn is scheduled to sign the bill into law on Nov. 20 at the University
 of Illinois at Chicago Forum at 3:30 p.m. Same-sex couples can apply
 for marriage license beginning June 1, 2014.

Illinois is the sixth state this y
ear to legalize same-sex marriage. Many
 advocates are looking at Hawaii to join the party
 very
 soon.