Illinois took a step closer Tuesday (5 February) to becoming the 10th state in the US to make marriage legal.
A same-sex marriage bill sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans passed a State Senate committee by a vote of 9-5. The bill now moves on to the full Senate for a vote which could take place on Valentine's Day (14 February).
Steans had sponsored gay marriage legislation in last month's lame duck session but it did not manage to advance it past the committee stage.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has said he wants a gay marriage bill vote on Valentine's Day. Cullerton is certain there are enough votes to pass the legislation through his chamber. It would then move to the House.
If the bill passes the Senate and House, Governor Pat Quinn would sign it. Quinn came out publicly in support of gay marriage last year.
LGBT activists applauded the committee vote.
'The day when loving, committed same-sex couples in Illinois can marry feels imminent,' said Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal. 'Our state is ready to become the tenth state where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and we urge people across the state to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill when it comes to a vote as early as next week. It's just time.'