Illinois Senate Passes Marriage Equality in 34-21 Vote


The Illinois Senate has approved a marriage equality bill in a bipartisan 34-21 vote after a couple hours of debate. The measure now moves to the House where it faces a toughter battle.


The 34-21-2 Senate vote represents a turnaround of sorts after advocates unsuccessfully sought to push a gay marriage bill through last month’s lame-duck legislative session. Supporters vowed to try again quickly with a new General Assembly that featured even more Democratic seats in both chambers.

Under the measure, marriage officially would be changed in state law from an act between a man and a woman to two people. The legislation explicitly says nothing in the proposed law would force a religious denomination or minster to “solemnize any marriage.” People in civil unions would be able to convert them to gay marriages within a year of a same-sex marriage law going on the books in Illinois.

Listen to the vote HERE.

Said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office:

"We thank the Illinois Senate for passing this historic bill, making this a sweet Valentine’s Day for loving same-sex couples across the state. The momentum for marriage continues on this day American holiday honoring love and commitment, and we now urge the House of Representatives to join the right side of history and grant same-sex couples the dignity and respect of marriage."

Together, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois each filed lawsuits on May 30, 2012, representing a total of 25 same-sex couples from across the state of Illinois seeking the freedom to marry. Two days later, the Illinois Attorney General's office filed papers agreeing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The Cook County Clerk and States Attorney also agree that the marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Said Rick Garcia, Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project and Senior Policy Advisor of LGBT rights group The Civil Rights Agenda:

"This is an historic moment and demonstrates once again that Illinois is the land of Lincoln - fairness justice and equality for all,. Just two years ago we thought this day was years away, but here we are and I am humbled to be sitting here today. This is an important step, but there is still more work to do. As we turn our attention to the House of Representatives we are working to make sure that they will pass it and the Governor is waiting to sign it."


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  1. Hooray!

    Posted by: Mona | Feb 14, 2013 3:13:47 PM

  2. This is GREAT news! Even though they are saying the House vote is going to be more difficult, the momentum is here! This is SUPER exciting!

    Posted by: C.J. | Feb 14, 2013 3:37:34 PM

  3. Largin margin than expected it seems, with one GOP vote. Momentum!

    Posted by: Shane | Feb 14, 2013 3:42:20 PM

  4. So when does it go to the House?

    Posted by: Sergio | Feb 14, 2013 4:04:27 PM

  5. The House is 60% Democrat. You would think passage wouldn't be an issue but unfortunately many state Democrats have not evolved like the national Democrats have (See RI and HI - the RI Senate controlled by the Dems may very well vote down SSM while the Hawaiian Dems put off the issue until next year.)

    Posted by: KT | Feb 14, 2013 4:10:44 PM

  6. Hopefully the House will have more sense than to legalize that bullsh!t.

    Posted by: DJ | Feb 14, 2013 4:12:38 PM

  7. The important information missing here is how tough it will be in the House.
    The number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are 40 and 19. It seems that 34 Democrats voted for the bill, about 85%
    In the House, there are 71 Democrats and 47 Repugs.
    Assuming the same percentage of Democrats will vote for the bill. That means the result will be 60 to 58. The margin will be smaller. Of course those on the ground there should have more concrete facts about how the members will vote.

    Posted by: simon | Feb 14, 2013 4:19:20 PM

  8. Thank you Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris for steering SB 10 successfully through the Illinois Senate. The bill will now go the House and be introduced by Rep. Harris, an openly gay man who has been leading the effort for Marriage Equality in Illinois for years and was the sponsor of the successful Civil Union bill two years ago.

    The House is expected to vote on the bill this session, most likely by the end of the month. The vote will be close. Though the Democrats hold a supermajority, there are many conservative downstate Democrats who are nervous about a primary opponent. And of course there is religious opposition giving pause to some African American allies.

    State Republican Chairman Pat Brady has urged his party members to support the bill, saying the time has come. Though only one Repbulican Senator voted for the bill. He and Chairman Brady deserve our thanks.

    It should pass, but it will be close and anything could happen.

    Urge your friends and families in Illinois to call their State Reps and ask for their support.

    Posted by: MetroMike | Feb 14, 2013 4:37:18 PM

  9. Please don't call that vote bipartisan. There were 34 yes votes to pass the bill: 33 democrats and 1 republican. BIPARTISAN? I had sex with a girl once in college, can I call myself BISEXUAL?

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 14, 2013 5:21:13 PM

  10. Andrew, while a pretty funny response, your the only one to call this bipartisan, or even use that word. It clearly was not. But at least the Chair of the Repbulican party in Illinois has taken a stand for equality. There were more Republican Senators who likely would have supported the bill if their vote was required. In the end, it was not. Not that that in any way justifies their no vote.

    Posted by: MetroMike | Feb 14, 2013 5:29:13 PM

  11. @Metromike: The reason I made the comment is because Towleroad (see above) called it bipartisan.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 14, 2013 5:36:12 PM

  12. @Andrew. Great Catch man. Sorry. Your right Andrew, if that was bipartisan then you are in fact now Bisexual..sorry. Bad choice of copy and paste Towleroad.

    Posted by: MetroMike | Feb 14, 2013 5:41:11 PM

  13. Isn't the House vote called the "Reality Check"

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 14, 2013 5:47:29 PM

  14. And of course there is religious opposition giving pause to some African American allies.

    Uh, no there isn't.

    On the civil union bill, only one black person (Mr. James Meeks) voted against the civil union bill.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Feb 14, 2013 6:30:17 PM

  15. To all the trolls mentioning the house vote... We'll get that mother f-cking house vote, and then one day we'll even have a gay man in the white HOUSE. Gay is here to stay and we're not going ANYWHERE! Our gay pride and gay roar is JUST getting start. It is just getting started. Get used to it!

    Posted by: Logan | Feb 14, 2013 6:32:49 PM

  16. There's no such thing as impossible when it comes to the gay community. We get stuff done, we get our requests and we triumph. Just a fact. We are unstopable as a community.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Feb 14, 2013 6:35:24 PM

  17. Hold the democrats accountable. There is NO excuse for democrats to now be the ones standing in the way of gay civil rights. That right there would be worth getting in the streets and marching. The LGBT coalition just needs to be galvanized in Illinois and work hard. We got this.

    Posted by: Klien | Feb 14, 2013 6:37:46 PM

  18. Gov Pat Quinn is poised to be the sixth consecutive state governor to sign marriage equality legislation who happens to be a Roman Catholic. This points to the moral bankruptcy of the Catholic hierarchy who have been fighting marriage equality in all of their states.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 14, 2013 7:23:48 PM

  19. The LGBT camp in Illinois is strong, focused, driven and committed. They wills ee this through and we will get marriage equality in Illinois. Everyone needs to engage their allies on twitter and facebook to touch base with their elected officials in Illinois, and make our presence heard. That's the key to our success here.

    Posted by: J.T | Feb 14, 2013 7:28:53 PM

  20. @DJ: If that's how you feel, you better get up off your ass and start lobbying in Springfield, instead of spewing your bigoted nonsense opinion to a bunch of LGBT friendly people on a blog.

    Posted by: Bruno | Feb 14, 2013 8:29:59 PM

  21. We held a marriage equality rally/demonstration here in Rockford IL today. Attended by my own United Church of Christ Pastor as well as Pastors from our neighboring Lutheran and Episcopal churches. They all carried signs that said "Pastor For Marriage Equality" I have never been prouder to be called Christian.

    Posted by: Bob in Rockford IL | Feb 15, 2013 12:18:03 AM

  22. Will the Illinois Democrats turn against us like the untrustworthy, back-stabbing Democrats in Hawaii ?

    Posted by: Icebloo | Feb 15, 2013 12:29:40 AM

  23. None of the chamber's African-American members voted against us, with seven voting yea, two passing and one not voting. Fourteen of 15 Republican males (all white, of course) voted nay and all three Republican women (also of course all white) voted nay. Ten of 11 Democratic women voted yea, with the lone exception being the one mentioned above who passed. Twenty-three of the chamber's 29 Democratic males voted yea, with three voting nay, one passing and two not voting.

    Posted by: Patric | Feb 15, 2013 12:43:58 AM

  24. Hallelujah! This is a wonderful Valentine's Day gift and a wondrous start to Lent for all Illinois families. God bless marriage, the Democratic party, and the Land of Lincoln.

    Posted by: DB | Feb 15, 2013 11:50:35 AM

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