November 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama ‘overjoyed’ by marriage equality in Illinois
President Obama applauded the Illinois state legislature for legalizing marriage equality (Blade photo by Lee Whitman).

President Obama applauded the Illinois state legislature for legalizing marriage equality (Blade photo by Lee Whitman).

President Obama applauded the Illinois Legislature on Tuesday for passing marriage equality legislation in the state where once he served as both a state and federal lawmaker.

In a statement made public by the White House on Tuesday, Obama said he’s “overjoyed” over the news that the Illinois Legislature had sent marriage equality legislation to the Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.

“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,” Obama said.

Obama added that he’s pleased the Illinois Legislature approached the issue of marriage equality “in a fair and open way” and by recognizing the importance of religious liberty in the process.

“Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings,” Obama said.

The president has been outspoken over efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. Prior to plans for an initial vote in May, Obama said at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Chicago that passing a bill to enact marriage equality was “the right thing to do.” After the bill didn’t come up a vote at that time, Obama gave assurances during a Pride reception at the White House in June that he’ll continue to support the effort, saying, “We’re not giving up on that.”

Obama served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008. Before that, he served as a state senator for state’s 13th District between 1997 and 2004.

The complete statement follows:

Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.

As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. 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.

I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.

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. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Rick Mangus

    He lies about everything else, why should we believe him on this?

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