After gay marriage won the final legislative approval in the Washington state Senate on Wednesday, Illinois could become the eighth state in the US to offer same-sex couples the right to marry.
On Wednesday (8 February), three legislators filed what they call the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the Illinois House of Representatives. If the bill reaches full legislative status during the legislature’s spring session, it would offer same-sex couples in Illinois the right to marry which is now exclusively available to heterosexual couples.
With gay marriage gaining ground across the country and California’s Proposition 8 appealed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday , Illinois could consider full marriage equality soon.
One year after gay couples gained the option of civil unions in Illinois, the Prairie State could soon follow in the footsteps of New Hampshire, New York and Washington in authorizing same-sex marriages.
Similar to the New York Marriage Equality Act, the Marriage Fairness Act in Illinois would also hold a discrimination clause giving religious groups the freedom to decide which marriage they will perform.
Republican Greg Harris, who was instrumental in the approval of civil unions last year, stated he didn’t know whether gay marriage will get serious consideration during the 'egislature’s spring session, claiming that ‘the bill will trigger a period of lobbying to build support.’
Lawmakers might be hesitant to support the legislation in a presidential election year, and the measure is likely to trigger strong opposition from conservative groups.
Fran Eaton, editor of conservative website Illinois Review, claimed that ‘we’re not bigots for trying to hold the line on our religious beliefs, and that will be a concern in this fall’s elections.’