US President Barack Obama has urged lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in his home state of Illinois.
Legislation could be voted on in the Illinois General Assembly as early as next week in the state capital of Springfield, and a White House spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper that Obama hoped they would pass the bill.
‘While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,’ spokesman Shin Inouye said.
‘His personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally.’
Obama was an Illinois State Senator from 1997 until 2004 before being elected to the US Senate representing Illinois the following year.
Both houses of the Illinois state parliament are controlled by Democrats and the state’s governor Pat Quinn has said he will sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if presented with one.
Obama has previously urged voters to support same-sex marriage initiatives in Maine, Maryland and Washington state – all three of which passed at the last US election.
If Illinois passes a bill it will become the tenth US state plus the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriages are also recognized and performed on the territories of the Coquille and Suquamish Native American tribes in Oregon and Washington state.