On Nov. 5, lawmakers approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, making it the 15th state to allow same-sex couples to marry. The bill now travels to Gov. Pat Quinn, who promises to sign it into law, according to a Washington Post article. The bill is intended to take effect starting June 1, 2014.
For more than a year, organizations supporting both sides of the issue have lobbied the Illinois government. Ultimately, the House adopted the bill with a fairly close vote of 61 to 54.
Shortly after the bill’s approval, President Obama praised the Illinois General Assembly in a statement released by the White House.
“As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” Obama said. “Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, 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.”
However, some lawmakers and organizations disagree with the passage of the bill. Brian Brown, president of the National Organization of Marriage, said in a statement that “the losers will be the people of Illinois who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Brown is especially worried about persecutions to religious liberty when the bill becomes law. He believes that individuals who feel that marriage is defined only as a union between one man and one woman will be charged with discrimination.
A Central student, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that the legalization of same-sex marriage amplifies his hope that the United States is becoming more accepting of gay and lesbian couples.
“The connotation between how people perceive civil unions is very different from that of a marriage,” the student said. “Only having a civil union is degrading. If the law says that gay men can’t [marry], it kind of removes you from the world. You feel like an outcast.”
In the student’s opinion, the legalization of gay marriage is the direction our nation is headed in, though the student recognizes that change won’t be immediate.
“I was shocked [to hear the news], but at the same time, I was expecting it [to happen]; I just wasn’t expecting it to be today.”