Gay Marriage Bill Amended Before Vote
A bill allowing gay marriage in Illinois is on the way to the House of Representatives after passing through the Senate today.
One Senate Republican voted for the bill, and three Democrats voted against it. It was an amendment added this morning that may have pushed the bill over the edge.
"Say aye. Oppose nay. The ayes have it, and the amendment is adopted."
It was a game changer of sorts--an amendment added to the bill ahead of voting on Thursday.
"How does Senate Bill 10 protect the freedom of religion?," Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Chicago Democrat, asked.
"If a religious denomination refuses to perform a marriage, they will not be liable for any civil, administrative or criminal penalty claim or cause of action," Senator Heather Steans said.
It would be one of many concerns surrounding the bill that Steans, also a Chicago-area Democrat, would try to put to bed.
"It is time for Illinois get rid of its second-class status for a segment of our residents and allow everyone the opportunity to reap the emotional, social, and economic benefits and obligations of marriage," she said. "It is time we, the General Assembly, catch up with our neighbors."
No matter the reason for the marriage, churches and religious organizations--many of whom greatly oppose this bill--will in no way be forced to support it, Steans said.
"Marriage is something that's universal and should be granted to all couples that are loving and that care for each other," Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of Chicago-based The Civil Rights Agenda, said.
The lone Republican voting for it--Jason Barickman--said it was the right thing to do.
"I believe the bill as amended, with language that I had direct input on, does a good job of protecting those religious freedoms that are important to people all over the state," Barickman, of Bloomington, said.
Other Republicans disagree, questioning the amendment's level of protection. Republican Dale Righter of Mattoon voted with his party.
"Give me a little guidance and therefore the people back home who are going to be trying to figure out what they can and can't do in their churches in order to qualify for this protection," Righter said.
No word on when Illinois Representatives will take up the bill. They're back in session next week and could start talking about it right away.
Here in Illinois, civil unions are granted a lot of the same benefits as marriage, but they are not recognized by the federal government, and are not transferable from state to state.
The bill passed with a 34-21 vote in the Senate. Democrats are certain they have the support to move it through the House.
Read more: Illinois Reacts to Same-Sex Marriage Vote