CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Richard M. Daley says he hopes the state’s approval of civil unions for same-sex couples will eventually lead to full marriage rights.

Speaking at an unrelated event Thursday, Mayor Daley said he was “very happy” that state legislators “realized (gays and lesbians) should have the same rights under state law, which is really important.”

“Eventually, marriage will take place. It has to be,” Mayor Daley continued. “I’m very pleased, and I hope the governor signs it as quickly as possible.”

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The Illinois State Senate approved civil unions on Wednesday by a vote of 32-24. The House passed the bill the day before, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn who has promised to sign it.

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If Quinn signs the bill, it could go into effect as soon as July 1 of next year. Quinn has not said where or when he will sign the bill, but reports he might do so in Chicago before the end of this year.

The measure will give same-sex couples all 648 legal benefits of marriage. These include the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital and make decisions about their medical care, and property inheritance rights. But the bill does not recognize same-sex marriage.

In an interview with the Windy City Times, Equality Illinois public policy director Rick Garcia said he was both excited and exhausted. He also remarked on how the tone has changed since his organization struggled in favor of a statewide anti-discrimination bill, which was approved in 2005.

In the 1980s and ’90s when the anti-discrimination bill was under discussion, the debate revolved around moral arguments, Garcia told the Windy City Times. But now, Garcia told the newspaper, “legislator after legislator talks about ‘my gay daughter, my gay brother.’”

But issues of moral and religious beliefs still came up during the debate.

Peter Breen, from Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center said, “The problem is that this bill not only created civil unions, but then elevated those to the same level as marriage between one man and one woman.”

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