In a span of about an hour Tuesday afternoon, Illinois lawmakers sealed same-sex marriage's fate. It passed and very soon, Illinois should become the 15th state in the country to allow it. In the Rockford area, there are mixed reviews about what this means for people, communities and our society.
With Governor Pat Quinn's signature, the law will change, but conflicting views on the issue will always be there. Supporters say the House and Senate's passing of this bill is a breath of relief.
"We're just very happy. A lot of us have been working and praying very hard for this for a long time." -says Spring Creek United Church of Christ Education Ministry Chairman Bob Black.
SCUCC member Julie Eklund currently helps organize civil unions at the church.
"We changed [my title] to event coordinator because we had done weddings and civil unions. Now I can go back to being the wedding coordinator!" -she exclaims, beaming.
Illinois should start seeing same-sex marriage ceremonies in summer of 2014.
"We're going to have another celebration here at SCUCC and start performing marriages that day." -Black explains.
Opponents of the bill say they're disappointed, but not disheartened.
The real aims of marriage are the procreation of children and the building of love between men and women and we believe this has not changed no matter what law is passed. For society to grow and flourish we need to protect marriage between men and women." -says Kevin Rilott, with the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative.
The Rockford Catholic Diocese released this statement, "Redefining marriage as between "two persons" rather than "one man and one woman" ignores the unique nature of this institution... We pray that those who stood prepared to support this legislation will also be prepared to answer for its consequences on our society."
Same-sex marriage supporters say their next step is tackling other issues, like hunger, poverty and crime.
"We won this battle but our fight for justice goes on." -says Black.
Opponents say they'll lead by example.
"We just have to share our message in a more clear and authentic way by the way we live our lives; by treating all people with respect and kindness." -Rilott says.
Governor Quinn has said he'll sign this bill. Rockford area representatives Joe Sosnowski, Chuck Jefferson, John Cabello and Brian Stewart all voted no, so did Senator Dave Syverson.
Sosnowski and Syverson express the same concerns about the bill's language.
"There are some glaring holes in protections that it offers for religious liberties. Church halls or banquet facilities don't have the ability to go by their own personal convictions and not allow same-sex marriage, so that's obviously going to create some very big issues when it talks about religious freedoms." -Sosnowski says.
Chuck Jefferson says, "The gay marriage bill passed, they worked very hard on it. I did not support the bill, but I feel good for the sponsor. He worked very hard and he's very deserving."
Senator Steve Stadelman voted in favor of the same-sex marriage bill. We tried contacting him for a comment and we're waiting to hear back.
Illinois lawmakers send governor bill making state largest in heartland to allow gay marriage.
The Illinois House has voted 61 to 54 in favor of gay marriage. The bill will now go back to the Senate for approval on minor changes made to the earlier version of the bill the Senate approved on Valentine's Day. Governor Quinn has said he will sign it if it passes.
If the bill is signed, Illinois will become the 15th state in the nation to allow gay marriage.
Democratic Representative Greg Harris of Chicago took the floor in Springfield Tuesday afternoon to encourage his colleagues to support a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Republican Representative Ed Sullivan of Mundelein has said he is in support of the bill because it is fair. Mundelein's mother-in-law is a lesbian. On the opposing side, Representative Jeanne Ives of Wheaton said Tuesday that keeping marriage between a man and a woman was supported by history.
The bill passed the Senate in February but has not been called for a House vote. Harris has said he did not have enough votes in favor of the bill earlier in the year. Tuesday, members of the House approved an amendment that would move the bill's effective date to June.
If the House passes the measure this week, it will go back to the Senate for approval. Governor Pat Quinn has said he will sign it.
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