February 14, 2013
By Jacob Combs
The Illinois Senate has passed SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, by a 34-21 margin. Two Senators chose to vote present.
The bill now moves the more conservative House of Representatives, where advocates will continue to lobby lawmakers to approve the bill and send it Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it. Democrats control a supermajority in the House.
UPDATE 1 (3:25 p.m.): Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s top sponsor in the House, issued the following statement after the vote, according to the Washington Blade:
“The momentum is building. More and more House members are telling me they want to be on the right side of history and that they intend to support the bill.”
From the AP’s coverage of the vote:
Before approving the measure, the Senate attached an amendment Thursday that explicitly states no church or other religious organization will be forced to solemnize same-sex marriages. It also says churches cannot be sued if they don’t allow their parishes to be used for same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Some Republicans raised concerns that the bill would force religious organizations to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their fellowship halls, parish centers or even in their sanctuaries. But Sen. Heather Steans, the bill sponsor, said even before the amendment was added that the bill made clear churches won’t be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
UPDATE 2 (3:30 p.m.): BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner has a nice video of the vote count and the moment the measure passed the Illinois Senate (and a great GIF of Sen. Heather Steans, the bill’s Senate sponsor, getting a congratulatory high five and a hug).
UPDATE 3 (4:00 p.m.): According to the Windy City Times, “LGBT groups have said that the bil could be on Governor Quinn’s desk by the end of the month.”
UPDATE 4 (4:45 p.m.): Some interesting notes on the breakdown of the vote today. Three downstate Democrats voted against the measure (Forby, Haine and Sullivan) and two Chicago-area Democrats voted present (Harris, Van Pelt Watkins). Two Democrats did not vote: Clayborne, Jr. and Silverstein. One Republican, Jason Barickman, voted in favor of the bill.
NBC5 Chicago rounded up reactions from prominent politicians throughout the state, including Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Clerk David Orr, a marriage equality supporter who is the named defendant in the combined Lambda Legal/ACLU case to bring equal marriage rights to Illinois.