In Valentine vote, Illinois Senate approves gay marriage

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:12pm EST

Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Reuters) - The Illinois state Senate approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday in a Valentine's Day vote spearheaded by Democrats, as gay couples around the country used the romantic day to dramatize their quest for the right to marry.

The Illinois Senate, which is heavily Democratic, voted 34-21 to advance the measure to the House in President Barack Obama's home state. The fate of the bill in the state's lower chamber remains uncertain.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign any bill legalizing gay marriage, which would make Illinois the 10th state to legalize same-sex nuptials, in addition to the District of Columbia. It would also become the first Midwestern state to approve same-sex marriage through legislation. Iowa's Supreme Court legalized such marriages there in 2009.

Obama has encouraged the drive to legalize gay marriage, authorizing a White House statement recently saying that if he were still in the Illinois legislature, he would vote for it.

The Illinois drive to legalize gay marriage coincided with a national campaign by a coalition of gay rights groups to highlight the issue on Valentine's Day.

As part of what they call "Freedom to Marry Week," same-sex couples will request marriage licenses in 18 places around the country, including a number of states where same sex-marriage is not legal.

"These laws are unjust and immoral, and we are confronting those laws head-on across the country," said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, a gay rights group.

Although the Illinois House, like the state's Senate, is controlled by Democrats, the fate of the legislation in the lower chamber remains a question mark.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross said he was not sure whether it would gain Republican support. There also was concern that some black Democratic legislators from Chicago could oppose the measure because of pressure from African-American Christian pastors.

Some black ministers have joined Illinois Catholic bishops in expressing strong opposition to legalization.

And within the Democratic party, gay marriage is still a divisive topic.

Two Democratic state lawmakers broke with their party leaders on Thursday and introduced measures in both chambers of the legislature that call for an amendment to the state constitution to enshrine marriage as between a man and a woman.

(Writing by Greg McCune; editing by Matthew Lewis, Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)

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Comments (5)
Doc62 wrote:
What a mess! Biden blows Obama out of the water last yr and started this. Is America ready to make things right? Obama wanted to wait and rightly so. Homophobia is very much alive and compounded by a very large Church lobby. Education and more time would have been a better solution. I went from intolerant to tolerant thru education. GLBT brings talented people to good jobs, raises the tax base, improves our sinking cities and are great neighbors.
To the Church who thinks not, I’d rather have Cooper A. as my neighbor than a pedophile priest “schtupping” my children.

Feb 14, 2013 5:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
theidahokid wrote:

Feb 14, 2013 6:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Anti-Kabbalah wrote:
Rainbow Obama, Bi-den and lying Gay Democrats approves gay marriage, but we the people didn’t vote for these Democ-rats Demi-demons freaks. USA is dead.

Feb 14, 2013 6:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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