November 20, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Illinois same-sex marriage bill signed into law

Pat Quinn, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Pat Quinn (Image via Livestream)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“This is a day of celebration,” he said during a ceremony that took place at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Quinn signed the measure into law on the same desk that Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address.

“We are the Land of Lincoln and we understand how important Abraham Lincoln’s words and legacy are important to us,” the governor said, referencing the Emancipation Proclamation. “We understand in our state is part of our unfinished business is to help other states in the United States of America achieve marriage equality.”

Gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored the measure in the Illinois Legislature, joined Quinn on stage alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local and statewide elected officials.

“Today we’re here to celebrate family, commitment, equality, love, courage and community,” Harris said.

“Today Illinois makes history by recognizing all committed loving relationships,” Steans added. “Today we welcome all families in Illinois as equally valued.”

Lieutenant Gov. Sheila Simon described herself as a “proud Illinoisan.”

“It’s time to stop planning rallies and start planning weddings,” she said.

Quinn signed the bill more than two weeks after it received final approval in the state legislature.

“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,” President Obama said in a Nov. 5 statement after the Illinois House of Representatives approved the measure.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, held a banner outside the signing ceremony that read “homosexual ‘marriage’: against nature and nature’s God.”

Gays and lesbians are currently able to legally marry in 14 states and D.C.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Nov. 13 signed a measure that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians will be able to exchange vows in the Aloha State on Dec. 2.

Illinois’ same-sex marriage law is slated to take effect on June 1, 2014.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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