We reported last week that Hawaii would soon become the 15th state to legalize marriage equality, but it looks like Illinois might beat them to the punch. After months of jockeying, the Illinois House of Representatives approved a gay marriage bill late Tuesday, with supporters rallying just one vote more than the 60 required for passage. The state Senate subsequently voted for the legislation as well, and it now lands on the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, who’s said that he’ll sign it.
The bill had originally passed the state Senate back in February, and was expected to pass the House in May. However, Representative Greg Harris, a lead supporter of the bill, reluctantly pulled the legislation at the eleventh hour, ostensibly to give conservative members of the Democrat caucus more time to discuss the issue with their constituencies. Since then, powerful Democrats in the state lobbied hard for the bill’s passage, including Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The version the House approved today contained a technical change regarding the implementation date of the legislation, which is why the Senate had to approve it again afterwards. Illinois will begin marrying same-sex couples on June 1st.