After a rather lengthy trip down the aisle, Illinois' same-sex marriage bill was signed into law Wednesday afternoon by Governor Pat Quinn. After the bill passed in the House two weeks ago, Quinn said he would sign the legislation by the end of the month so that the law could take effect by June. Quinn's signature will make Illinois the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The bill faced significant opposition from the state's Catholic Church leadership, as well as Democratic lawmakers who were under pressure from African-American Protestant churches. (Because magic solves gay marriage, apparently, Reuters reports that "a Catholic bishop in Illinois, Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, said he was planning an exorcism ritual to protest the law at the same time as the governor's planned signing." Good luck with that dude.)
But out with the devil, and in with the new: In its final form, Illinois' legislation differs significantly from Hawaii's same sex marriage legalization, which was signed into law last week and is ultimately more conservative. Unlike Hawaii, where those able to marry couples are legally allowed to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, those who refuse to perform ceremonies in Illinois will be open to lawsuits.
"The losers will be the people of Illinois who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” says Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. That's funny, because a lot of same-sex couples have also been harassed for believing that marriage could include them too.
Brown said Illinois' legalization could mark a halting point for the movement: There's no state left that has both a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and a Democrat-dominated government. The leader of Brown's rival organization, Marriage Equality USA, said that there's hope yet for next year — particularly in Oregon and Indiana.
Independent polling organization Pew Research reveals there are smaller margins of conservative opposition to same-sex marriage than ever before; with even the majority of Catholics favoring gay marriage these days. The only regions left with a majority opposition to same-sex marriage are the traditionally slow-to-come-around South Central and South Atlantic regions (even the Midwest is on board with it).
But back in Illinois, it's looking like it's time to celebrate.
"For the first time in this state, there are going to be kids that will grow up and will figure out at some point that they are gay," wedding planner Anthony Navarro said. "And they are going to have the same thought process as their peers ... that they can grow, find a partner, get married, have kids, have a house. They can have the same dreams."