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Marriage Equality Bill Introduced In Springfield

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 8, 2012 8:40PM

Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

State Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy filed marriage equality legislation in Springfield today. House Bill 5170, aka the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Harris told the Chicago Phoenix's Tony Merevick

“It marks the next step in our journey toward full marriage equality in our state. It’s not going to happen quickly, it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work.”

Cassidy told

"It is past time for our relationships and our families to be fully recognized and protected under the law."

The bill was introduced a day after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage, was unconstitutional. Proposition 8, backed heavily by out-of-state funding, defined marriage in California as being between a man and a woman.

The Illinois Civil Union law affords same-sex couples, and straight unmarried couples, the same rights as married couples. Both Harris and Mell applauded the law when Gov. Pat Quinn signed it into effect last year, but said they would continue to fight for same sex marriage.

Equality Illinois applauded the legislation:

"In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love - are also equal in marriage."

While Anthony Martinez of The Civil Rights Agenda released a statement that read:

“We at TCRA supported the Civil Union bill as an initial step to providing rights and benefits to same sex couples, but separate is never equal. Marriage has always been one of the principal goals for our organization and we are pleased to finally be able to move forward towards achieving that goal. We thank the leadership of Representative Harris, Cassidy and Mell, and look forward to supporting their efforts. TCRA will work tirelessly to ensure that Illinois recognizes that all families deserve to be equal.”