The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday to bring marriage equality to the state, with a vote of 61-54. The Senate passed the same measure last February, 34-21, and re-approved it last night with minor amendments.
Now, the legislation—dubbed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act—will head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has already said he will sign it into law.
“Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” Quinn said in a statement. “Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation.”
Before the vote, three gay members of the House told emotional stories of inequality in their state. “At the end of the day, what this bill is about is love, it’s about family, it’s about commitment,” said sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, holding an American flag from a supportive soldier stationed in Afghanistan, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
President Barack Obama, noting the progress in his home state, said in a statement, “Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours—and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”
Illinois legislators approved civil unions in the state in 2011, a move that many saw as a stepping stone toward full marriage equality.
Illinois will become the 15th state, and the third in the Midwest, to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The law will take effect June 1, 2014.