Illinois is set to become the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage, after both chambers of the state legislature have approved a measure legalizing weddings for gays and lesbians.


Anna and Hannah, an Illinois couple who flew to Hawaii for their beach wedding. Read their Real Wedding feature.

Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said in a statement Tuesday that he would sign the bill into law, although he did not specify a date. The House, which had adjourned in May without passing a Senate bill legalizing same-sex marriage, approved the measure Tuesday by a vote of 61 to 54.

“Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” said Quinn, who campaigned for the measure, which is scheduled to take effect in June.

The governor is expected to sign the bill by the end of November.

President Obama — who campaigned for the law this year — praised the Illinois legislature, where he once served.

“As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”

Hawaii is likely to be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage; the state Senate passed SB 1, the “Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013,” on Oct. 30, and the state House is expected to vote on the measure in a matter of days now that it has passed in a joint House committee 18-12 on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Until now, Hawaii, like Illinois, has allowed civil unions for LGBT couples.

The committee decision came after nearly 57 hours of public testimony, reports Hawaii News Now.

Just prior to the vote, several House Representatives addressed the audience — many of whom have been at the Capitol for all five days of the hearing —to explain their choice.

“Marriage means help. Marriage holds families together and forms a loving environment for children to be raised, so why deny more loving couples from getting married? Isn’t allowing our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that opportunity the conservative and Christian thing to do?” asked Kaniela Ing, a member of the Finance committee who voted for amended version of SB 1.

“Applying exemptions only to religious organizations prevents businesses, especially our small businesses and individuals, from expressing their religious and conscientious belief. The chilling effect from this would fundamentally change our society and turn Hawaii nei into arguably a totalitarian state,” said Judiciary committee Vice Chair, Representative Sharon Har.

The amended version of the bill eliminates a provision regarding parental rights that has been questioned over concerns it would grant undue Native Hawaiian status to some children of same-sex couples.

“We looked at the parental issue, we broadened the religious exemption — those were all because of some of the testimony that came out and some of the concerns shared by the Representatives,” said Finance committee Chair, Representative Sylvia Luke.

While supporters celebrated after the vote, opponents rallied in the Rotunda, shouting “Let the people decide.”

The committees have also proposed pushing the law’s effective date from November 18 back to December 2, 2013. House officials say that will provide the Department of Health the time they explained they would need to prepare for same-sex marriage.

If the bill passes its second reading in the House Wednesday there will be a 48 hour hold before House Representatives take a third reading and final vote, which would be Friday at the earliest. Since the bill has been amended, it still needs to cross back over the Senate for approval.

The New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the question of same-sex marriage on Oct. 23 and is expected to rule on the matter in the coming months. The state’s constitution is silent on the issue, and six same-sex couples have sued for the right to marry. —Kirsten Ott Palladino

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Photo by Torie McMillan Photography