It was a long and bumpy ride, but the quest for marriage equality in Illinois has finally succeeded. The state House of Representatives voted 61-54 in favor of a marriage measure on Tuesday, clearing the final hurdle for the bill. Gov. Pat Quinn has already said he will sign the bill, which will make Illinois the fifteenth state to approve marriage equality. The state will begin to issue marriage licenses on June 1, 2014.
“To treat all our citizens equally in the eyes of the law we must change this,” Rep. Greg Harris, the sponsor of the bill, said on the floor. “Families have been kept apart.”
There was plenty of drama in the months leading up to the vote. The state Senate passed the bill last February. The House considered the measure last May, but after an agonizing period of prevarication couldn’t muster the votes for passage. Meantime, the state Republican party was roiled by internal division, as the state party chair Pat Brady was ultimately pushed from his job because of his support for marriage equality. (Brady was subsequently hired to lobby for the bill, so he wins last-laugh rights.)
The bill now goes back to the Senate to be reconciled with the measure that it passed 9 months ago. Illinois is another in an unending string of losses for religious conservatives trying to stem the tide of marriage equality. “A ‘no’ vote today does not mean you’re a bigot. It doesn’t mean you’re homophobic,” said Rep. Tom Morrison, who voted against the measure. History may think differently.