Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) called on lawmakers yesterday to approve a marriage equality bill so he can sign the legislation into law.
"It's time to vote," Quinn said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So it's important to Illinois (that) the House of Representatives get going."
Quinn's call for the Illinois House to act comes after the state Senate approved same-sex marriage legislation with a 34-21 vote nearly three months ago on Valentine's Day. Since that vote, Rhode Island and Delaware have both approved marriage equality legislation. Minnesota is also poised to legalize same-sex marriage after the Minnesota House of Representatives approved marriage equality legislation yesterday. The Minnesota Senate is expected to approve the bill next week and the governor has promised to sign it into law, which would make Minnesota the first Midwestern state legislature to legalize marriage equality.
In Illinois, advocates have faced delays as they attempt to secure votes in the House, despite high profile support for the bill from national leaders, including President Barack Obama.
In December, Obama, through a spokesman, endorsed same-sex marriage in his home state of Illinois. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, White House spokesman Shin Inouye said the president would vote for the measure if he was still serving in the Illinois General Assembly.
"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," Inouye said. "As he has 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."
In April, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who filled Obama's vacant Senate seat after the 2008 presidential election, became the second Senate Republican to openly endorse marriage equality.
Supporters of the Illinois legislation are believed to be close to the 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the House, however a floor vote is not expected until they are sure they have the votes necessary for passage.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, bill sponsor Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) would not say when a vote could be expected, but stipulated momentum continues to grow for their side.
"Now the eyes of the country are on Illinois to see if we are going to do the right thing," Harris said.
[Photo: Pat Quinn (Credit: Chris Eaves/Wikimedia Commons)]