Illinois lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday to allow gay marriage in the state, paving the way for Governor Pat Quinn to sign the measure into law soon.
Under the measure, gay couples in Illinois will be allowed to marry beginning in June of 2014. Quinn already pledged to sign the bill when it comes across his desk.
The road to a vote in Illinois was stalled earlier this year when Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s sponsor, decided not to bring it to a vote in May because he simply didn’t have the support to pass it, reports The Associated Press.
However, that wasn’t the case this week, when the state House approved the bill 61-54, sending it to the Senate for technical changes. The US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act this summer resonated with lawmakers, according to Harris.
Backers launched a furious campaign to pass gay marriage in Illinois, even hiring a lobbyist from the state’s largest union, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party, and other field organizers who spanned the state.
On the floor of the state House, Harris fought for the bill, saying, “To treat all our citizens equally in the eyes of the law we must change this. Families have been kept apart.”
The New York Times notes that President Obama, once a member of the State Senate, advocated for the bill earlier this year. Illinois already allows civil unions for same-sex couples, but the new bill goes farther, joining 14 other states across the country in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Quinn released a statement after the vote on Tuesday, saying, “Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history. Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation.”
However, opponents of the gay marriage bill, including a group of Chicago-area pastors, vowed to line up primary challengers against some lawmakers who voted for the bill.
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