Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said he wants his legislative chamber to vote on gay marriage on Valentine's Day. Illinois would become the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Cullerton would like to pass the legislation, Senate Bill 10, out of committee this week and hopes to pass it on Feb. 14, according to Chicago Sun-Times.
The Democrat senator from Chicago believes the legislation has the necessary 30 votes to pass and move to the House of Representatives.
Sen. Heather Steans, a Democrat from Chicago, is the bill's chief Senate sponsor, and Rep. Greg Harris, also from Chicago, is the bill's chief House sponsor. The two have been working to tweak legislation that surfaced and stalled in January.
"I think under the language we're working on, everyone is a lot more comfortable there's no threat of a religious place having to open up to a religious ceremony if they don't want to," Steans was quoted as saying.
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has already vowed to sign the bill. "Governor Quinn joins with President Obama in supporting marriage equality and looks forward to working on this issue in the future with the General Assembly," Brooke Anderson, a spokesperson for the governor, said last year.
Last month, Quinn reiterated that advocates had been pushing for legislation that offers same-sex couples marriage rights currently only available to heterosexual couples, and that they had hoped to capitalize on momentum from other states and President Obama's support. "We're getting more support in the public every day," The Associated Press quoted him as saying. "I expect we will call it very early on in the session, if not in the first few weeks."
Capitol Fax blogger Rich Miller last month said the state's Republican lawmakers also want to see the marriage bill approved as quickly as possible. "The reason so many Republicans would like to see the bill passed is because they know that with the huge, new Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers, that it's eventually going to pass anyway," he wrote in a column in Chicago Sun-Times. "They want to get this issue out of the way and behind them as soon as possible. The issue is trending hard against the GOP's historical opposition, and they want the thing off the table before it starts to hurt them."
However, a coalition of African American clergy is calling on Illinois legislators to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Bishop Lance Davis, a member of the group and senior pastor of New Zion Christian Covenant in Dolton, Ill., told WBEZ he's "insulted" gay marriage is being viewed as a civil right.
"I teach my children, while we love everyone, do not ever drink the Kool-aid that says they're one in the same," Davis said. "We will fight against it vehemently."
Obama has expressed his support for the Illinois marriage bill, according to The Associated Press.