An Illinois Senate committee Tuesday afternoon approved same-sex marriage legislation, sending it to the Senate floor. The sponsor of a same sex marriage bill – which could get a Senate vote on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 – is hoping enough new faces are there to provide enough votes. An attempt to run the bill a month ago – in the lame-duck session of the previous General Assembly – fizzled because of a combination of family illness and a pre-arranged vacation on the part of some previously committed Yes votes, and that apparently made the difference, as the bill was never called for a floor vote.
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A simple majority in the Senate is 30. The new bill passed a committee Tuesday, after sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) changed it to try to accommodate concerns that churches which oppose the idea would expose themselves to lawsuits if they denied same-sex couples a wedding ceremony.
Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said he did not believe there was a “race to the courthouse” after civil union legislation passed a couple of years ago, but Rev. Keith Williams of Country Club Hills called the bill a violation of the separation of church and state.
Another opponent, Joe La Rue of the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the bill is more of a religious discrimination bill than a religious freedom bill.
“It hurts because our relationship is recognized differently,” testified Danielle Cook of Bloomington, who wants to marry her partner of more than a decade. Cook said people do not know what to make of their civil union because “marriage is the standard in our society.”