February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Ill. Senate committee approves same-sex marriage bill
Greg Harris, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris. (Photo by Leah Jones via Wikimedia)

An Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.

The 9-5 vote in the Illinois Senate Executive Committee came nearly a month after state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) reintroduced bills in their respective chambers that would extend marriage to gays and lesbians. The aforementioned committee on Jan. 3 voted to advance a same-sex marriage bill, but lawmakers did not take up the proposal before the end of the 2012 legislative session.

President Obama, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady are among those who have urged legislators to back the measure.

“It was amazing,” Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told the Washington Blade after the vote. “Not only did the bill pass with even stronger support than last time, but the opponents kept tripping over their nonsensical arguments. Significantly, not a single senator argued that same-sex couples did not deserve the freedom to marry. We have come a great way.”

“The day when loving, committed same-sex couples in Illinois can marry feels imminent, and Lambda Legal is energized by this vote,” Jim Bennett of Lambda Legal added. “Our state is ready to become the tenth state where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and we urge people across the state to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill when it comes to a vote as early as next week. It’s just time.”

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told the Sun-Times on Feb. 1 that he would like to schedule a vote on the proposal in the full chamber on Valentine’s Day.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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