The Illinois State Senate Executive Committee advanced marriage equality along a party line vote, Feb. 5 approving the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The Committee voted 9-5 to send the bill for a full Senate vote.
"It's a good day," said Rick Garcia, Senior Policy Advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. "Now it's on to a the Senate for a full vote and we're confident that it's going to pass both there and in the House."
The bill now moves to the full Senate floor where Senate President John Cullerton plans to introduce it on Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) - providing marriage equality proponents are certain of the 30 “yes” votes necessary for passage.
Garcia, who cut his teeth in LGBT activism in St. Louis, grew up in the Metro East. The veteran activist says he is particularly proud of all of the hard work coming out of Belleville and Edwardsville.
"Downstate is where our community makes the difference in the state house," explained Garcia. "And I'm excited to see how the LGBT community has grown and blossomed in the Metro East area - it's wonderful."
Today's victory marks the beginning of the effort to swiftly pass the bill in the new session of the General Assembly.
"The freedom to marry in Illinois is inevitable," said Equality Illinois CEO, Bernard Cherkasov. "But Illinoisans must continue to reach out to their Senators and Representatives until the minute that the bill comes up for a floor vote."
If passed by the Senate, the bill would need to pass House committee and then a full House vote before landing on the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, who plans to quickly sign the legislation into law. The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act's sponsors are Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans.
By COLIN MURPHY - EDITOR