From the Chicago Tribune this evening:
SPRINGFIELD --- Civil unions would be allowed in Illinois beginning next year for same-sex couples under legislation the House passed today.
The 61-52 vote followed spirited debate on whether the action would be tantamount to legalizing gay marriage.
Sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, called on his colleagues to join the arc of history that has gradually eliminated discrimination on social issues ranging from allowing women the right to vote to knocking down numerous social and legal barriers standing in the way of giving rights to people of color.
“We have a chance today to make Illinois a more fair state, a more just state, and a state which treats all of its citizens equally under the law,” Harris said. "We have a chance here, as leaders have had in previous generations, to correct injustice and to move us down the path toward liberty."
The measure now goes to the Senate, where a similar bill passed in committee today.
The Tribune quoted Rick Garcia, the political director of Equality Illinois, as saying, "I think it was telling that as the bill was being discussed the governor [Pat Quinn (D)] came out onto the floor and got a standing ovation. We've taken a huge step toward fairness. We are thrilled."
Lamda Legal, meanwhile, issued a news release, with Jim Bennett, regional director of Lambda Legal's Midwest regional office in Chicago, saying, "We thank the Illinois House for passing this historic bill. We are one step closer to bringing much needed protections to same-sex couples and their families. We now urge the Senate to vote for civil unions in Illinois."
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in the organization's own statement, "HRC congratulates Illinois’ House of Representatives for recognizing that all couples and all families deserve basic rights and protections. Civil Unions are not marriage, but they provide important benefits and are step in the right direction."