Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Illinois Law makers passed a historic marriage equality bill geared towards legalizing same sex unions in the State. The Illinois Senate passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (SB 10) on a 34 to 21 vote.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, called it "a vote for the history books." She stated "We have the opportunity today to welcome all families in Illinois as equally valued.”
The debate over the bill was dominated by questions about protections for religious institutions and contains a compromise. Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, was the only Republican to vote yes. He worked on an amendment explicitly stating that no church or other religious organization would be forced to solemnize same-sex marriages.
Governor Quinn praised the Senate’s passage of the bill. “Today, we are one step closer to marriage equality in Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement. “Couples across Illinois have even more reason today to celebrate their love for each other, thanks to the hard work of committed advocates and lawmakers.”
If passed, the measure would officially change state law to define marriage as an act between two people. Illinois residents in civil unions would be able to convert them to marriages with a year of the law going into effect.
The bill carries great significance in Fair Housing. If it becomes law, it will expand protections against familial status discrimination in Illinois to cover gay families. There is likely to be an increase in familial status discrimination cases. The House is expected to pass the bill when is presented for a vote.