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Illinois House, Senate Pass Same-Sex Marriage Bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois is poised to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage as both the House and Senate passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

The bill will become law once it has been signed by Governor Pat Quinn, which he has promised to do.

CBS 2’s Jay Levine was at the State Capitol for the historic vote and reports there were tears of joy for some and deep disappointment for others.

Governor Pat Quinn, who hosted a reception for sponsors and supporters Tuesday night, promised to sign the bill as soon as it hit his desk.

“It was a difficult mountain to climb but we got to the mountaintop and today we can see to the promised land,” said Quinn.

Sponsor Greg Harris said he wouldn’t call the bill until he had the votes, so when the debate started most assumed the bill would pass.

The bill needed 60 votes to pass and for few seconds the tally hung on 59, for 2 more yes votes came in.

“I had faith my colleagues were going to do the right thing and we were going to be remembered on the right side history today and we were,” said Harris.

Others like the Catholic Conference of Illinois disagreed, saying it was “deeply disappointed that the general assembly chose to redefine….a natural institution like marriage.”

The bill passed despite its opposition, and efforts to unite the black caucus against the bill, as arguments for equality rights trumped the biblical definition of marriage.

“Separate but equal is un-American. That’s why I’m voting for marriage equality,” said State Rep. Jehan Gordon.

“I love my wife. My wife loves me. Why shouldn’t same-sex couples have the same right?” said State Rep. Chris Welch.

The bill exempts members of the clergy and religious institutions of any requirement or liability for refusing to host of perform same sex marriages. It will become law next June.

President Obama today tweeted: “Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours.”

The passage of the bill sparked celebrations in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
“It was a victory and one day we’ll be saying ‘I do,’” said Marriage Equality supporter Edith Nieves.

She and scores of others crowded into sidetracks bar on Halsted Tuesday night to celebrate the passage of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois.

It was history in the making some thought they might never see.

“Back in the day I never would have even considered the possibility that this could ever, ever happen. It was as crazy as a flying car. I mean you didn’t even talk about it, you didn’t dream about it. It was out of the question. So now I just cannot wait to marry my first same-sex couple,” said ordained minister Gordon Sigl.

They realize not everyone supports their views, even with the legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

“We believe they are out of touch with their community. We believe they are working for the machine, and unfortunately they did not vote in the direction we would like them to” said Bishop Lance Davis.

Couples like Bob Schwartz and Ruffin Robinson disagree. They married eight years ago in Toronto.

“I believe like Brown vs. Board of Education that separate is not equal,” said Robinson.

They say Illinois has come a long way, but now they have the rest of the states to sway.

“That leaves 35 states where discrimination is still the law of the state and there are state constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex marriage,” said Schwartz.

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