State Senator Heather Steans has introduced SB2468, the Equal Marriage Act, to the Illinois Senate, and the language matches the House's version, HB178, the Same-Sex Marriage and Religion Freedoms Act. This bill was introduced by Rep. Greg Harris.
Harris has also introduced a civil unions bill, but I have had reservations about this tactic and how it was being handled.
This new development makes me much happier.
Reese spoke to Sen. Stearns on the phone.
Rep. Heather Steans makes clear that the time for waiting is over. "Look around the country. We have five states now with Equal Marriage. Its time. Illinois shouldn't lag," she said.To help support the marriage equality effort in Illinois, Rep. Harris encourages involvement with ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois as well as contacting state legislators.
Both Harris and Steans noted that several prominent Illinois lawmakers have come out in favor of full marriage equality - starting with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley when Representative Harris first introduced the bill in 2007. The highest profile of these equality endorsements have been Gubernatorial candidate Dan Hynes and both rivals for President Obama's former Senate seat, Alexi Giannoulias and David Hoffman.
"It's a fundamental right to find your own family," proclaimed Senator Steans, who calls being the first Senator to introduce marriage equality in Illinois an "honor." Senator Steans described her reasons for sponsoring this bill - issues all too well known to LGBT people in loving relationships barred from recognition.
Senator Steans takes issue with keeping Americans from the rituals, health care decisions, child rearing decisions, tax privileges and access to the same institutions that opposite-sex couples are afforded. She believes all couples deserve access to "the same rights and responsibilities that I have with my husband."
The ripple effect could be major, with Illinois situated squarely in the center of America's "Heartland." A Midwestern agricultural and industrial bastion, Illinois can take the lead in the marriage equality movement. As Representative Harris said, "We can show this is not just something from the coasts. Illinois is a lot like the rest of America."