Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law today. After a memorable bill-signing ceremony at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois joined the recent upsurge of LGBT rights legislation sweeping the nation.
The Land of Lincoln became the 16th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. Although Illinois was the 15th state to pass a marriage equality bill, Hawaii lawmakers approved an amended bill of their own on November 12. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed that bill into law the same day.
Illinois and Hawaii are part of a rising wave of legislation and legal proceedings to advance marriage equality following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act.
During today’s ceremony, Governor Quinn began his remarks with a moment of silence for six Illinois residents who lost their lives after powerful tornadoes ripped through the Midwest over the weekend. Thousands of supporters had packed the university auditorium to witness the bill’s signing, including numerous elected officials and activists. Quinn signed the marriage equality bill at the same desk where President Abraham Lincoln composed his 1861 inaugural address.
Earlier this month, President Obama voiced support for same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois, his home state, in a press release: “As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”