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BREAKING NEWS: Illinois Senate OKs marriage bill

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On Valentine’s Day, the Illinois Senate voted 34-21 to approve same-sex marriage. Two did not vote.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives, where anti-marriage forces are hoping to defeat the measure. Democrats control the House 60% to 40%.

Gov. Pat Quinn has been pushing hard for marriage equality for all Illinois residents. The state already offers civil unions.

"Marriage equality is coming to Illinois," Quinn vowed in his State of the State address last week.

During the debate, bill sponsor Heather Stearns answered common questions about what marriage equality would mean to Illinoians. "Same-sex couples want to marry for all the same reasons we all do," she said. "It is time we stop having to explain to our children why some families are treated different than others."

Opponents of same-sex marriage, including Sen. Tim Bivins, made the usual arguments against giving equality to gay and lesbian couples who want to wed, most of them talking points by anti-gay groups like NOM and the Family Research Council.

But Sen. Martin A. Sandoval put it in historic perspective: "It's a great day when you can show up to work and bring justice back home."

The reaction

"We thank the Illinois Senate for passing this historic bill, making this a sweet Valentine’s Day for loving same-sex couples across the state," said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office. "The momentum for marriage continues on this day American holiday honoring love and commitment, and we now urge the House of Representatives to join the right side of history and grant same-sex couples the dignity and respect of marriage."

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.