Illinois is set to allow same-sex marriage after the House approved legislation on Tuesday. Chicago Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn has praised the vote, claiming that Illinois is now an example for the nation to follow, and confirming that he would sign the bill into law, although he did not specify a date.
Tuesday saw the House approve the same-sex marriage measure in a marginal vote 61-54. A floor debate lasted more than two hours prior to the vote being taken.
The vote means Illinois is set to become the 15th state and largest in the heartland to allow gay marriage, after both chambers of the state legislature have approved the measure permitting gay weddings.
The vote in Illinois is the latest in a string of legislative and legal victories for same-sex marriage activists; in 2012 they won ballot initiative fights in Maryland, Maine and Washington state.
This year legislative battles in Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota also resulted in victories for gay marriage activists.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June struck down California's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.
President Barack Obama, who was for a long time standing the fence on the issue of gay marriage, has said in a statement: "As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else.
"So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours — and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law."
Meanwhile, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement that it was "disappointing but not surprising that the House has voted to redefine marriage. The losers will be the people of Illinois who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."
Brown highlighted that although the legislation in Illinois states that fraternal religious organizations cannot be forced to host gay marriage ceremonies, the law lacked sufficient religious freedom protections.
Brown said, "Once the law goes into effect in June of next year, we will see individuals, businesses and religious groups sued, fined, brought up on charges of discrimination and punished simply for holding true to the traditional view of marriage."