IL Takes First Step Towards Gay Marriage With Senate Executive Committee Approval

il-senateIllinois is easing on down the road toward marriage equality after the Senate Executive Committee approved a same-sex marriage bill Tuesday.

The Chicago Tribune reports the bill passed the Democratic-dominated committee with a 9-5 vote and will move to the full Senate where proponents are pushing for a vote by or on Valentine’s Day.

Sen. Heather Sterns, the bill’s sponsor, said legalized gay marriage is necessary to provide “equal protection” under laws for same-sex couples when civil unions fall short.

Danielle Cook and her partner Suzie Hutton of Bloomington testified that the legislation is needed to “make our lives more complete.”

Cook said that their civil union is not fully recognized socially or in employment settings and though she sees hers and Hutton’s relationship as a marriage, “it hurts” that it is viewed differently because “marriage is the standard” of society.

Meanwhile, Republicans and religious leaders questioned the protection of religious freedom of both churches and individuals who oppose gay marriage.

The Rev. Keith Williams of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church of Country Club Hills said he was in “vehement opposition” to the bill because same-sex marriage went against the basic tenets of the Bible.

“This bill puts the state very much in the church’s business,” Williams testified, “and I think we find ourselves deteriorating to a level of immorality that will lead this nation to a high level of judgment.”

The Rev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle of Good Shepherd Church in Romeoville disagreed, however, saying that she is straight, married, a mother of three and a pastor who views same-sex marriage legislation as a “matter of legal, civil and human rights.”