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State Rep. Introduces Bill To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage In Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A day after a federal court struck down the law banning same-sex marriage in California, a state lawmaker has introduced legislation to provide full marriage rights to same-sex couples in Illinois.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) on Wednesday introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, H.B. 5170, with co-sponsor Reps. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) and Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) signing on.

The proposed legislation declares that “all laws of this State applicable to marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children; parties to a marriage and their children, regardless of whether the marriage is of a same-sex or different-sex couple, have the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law.”

Harris was a lead architect of bill that legalized civil unions in Illinois last year. He has introduced bills for full same-sex marriage rights previously, but has not been successful.

Harris’ Facebook page was filled with messages of gratitude Wednesday afternoon.

“Greg, not sure if I tell you often enough. You ROCK!!!” one person wrote. “Thanks for introducing the bill today.”

Speaking to the Chicago Phoenix, Harris said a bill allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois “marks the next step in our journey toward full marriage equality in our state.”

The bill came the day after a three-judge panel struck down Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California after it had been already been legal for five months.

But Harris told the Phoenix the bill for Illinois was introduced Wednesday because of deadlines for new legislation, and he has always been working toward marriage equality.

“They call it a struggle for a reason,” Harris told the publication.

Currently, the State of Illinois still bans same-sex marriage by statute. But last year, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples.

Full same-sex marriage rights are currently available in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa and the District of Columbia.

Same-sex marriage was also approved in California after a state Supreme Court decision in June 2008, but that decision was overturned by Prop 8 five months later.

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