On Valentine's Day, the Illinois state Senate approved a marriage equality bill, 34-21. One Republican voted in favor of the bill, Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington. Before the vote, an amendment was added that states that no religious institution will be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony, which Barickman said had an impact on his vote. This bill will now move on to the House of Representatives, where it has less support but is still expected to pass, and then on to Governor Pat Quinn, who has suggested he would approve such a bill. "Marriage equality is coming to Illinois," the Governor said last week. Illinois would be the 10th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize marriage equality. Civil unions have been legal in Illinois since January of 2011.
After the bill passed the senate, a number of local outlets quoted Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, who said, among other things, “Marriage joins a man and a woman in love to meet one another’s needs, to procreate and to raise children. This is the lifeblood of any human society. This legislation tears at that definition with unknown consequences.” Very few news sources however, gave a platform to a religious leader who disagreed with this view. The Rockford Register Star spoke with the Reverend Dr. Matthew Johnson-Doyle who said "I’m thrilled. I’m very supportive of marriage equalities. I think all marriages should be treated equally under the law." However, even senators invoked their faith as a part of the floor debate. Sen. Willie Delgado of Chicago said in his speech that all citizens are the same "in the Lord's eyes."
Senator Kyle McCarter, a Republican, was quoted as saying, "It will have an effect on what our children are taught. I expect that what will happen to our state will be similar to Massachusetts, that it will change the curriculum." This mantra is very similar to the ads put out by Frank Schubert, in other states and on youtube, which Equality Matters and media in other states have already debunked, though this context was lacking from any of the outlets that quoted McCarter.
There are three other states, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Delaware, who currently have similar laws in the works.
"All eyes are on us," said Camilla Taylor, the marriage project director for Lambda Legal, who is based in Illinois. "It's looking great. We're very excited about Illinois."