(Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)
A nationwide organization that advocates for marriage being defined as only between one man and one woman has denounced Illinois becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage.
The National Organization for Marriage released a statement in response to the Illinois House of Representatives approving a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in The Prairie State.
Brian Brown, president of NOM, said in a statement that news from the Illinois House was "disappointing but not surprising."
"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," said Brown.
"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."
On Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. At present, the bill awaits the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn, who has expressed his support for the endeavor.
The bill itself was the focus of months of lobbying from various groups, including President Barack Obama, who began his political career in Illinois as a state senator.
"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," said President Obama in a statement.
This was not the first time the Illinois Legislature had attempted to legalize same-sex marriage in the Land of Lincoln.
Earlier this year a gay marriage legalization bill was defeated before it was brought to a vote as sponsors concluded that they did not have the support to pass it.
Both supporters and opponents of the legislation attributed the failure to a lack of outreach to the African-American community.
Far from being concluded, the debate over marriage definition may continue into next session. The Associated Press reports that several religious leaders in Illinois are looking to run against elected officials who voted in favor of the bill.
"A group of Chicago-area pastors vowed to line up primary challengers against some lawmakers who voted yes," reported Sophia Tareen and Kerry Lester of AP.
Rep. Tom Morrison, a Republican who voted against the bill, said in a statement that there are many potential problems with redefining the definition of marriage.
"This issue is not just about two adults and their emotional relational and financial commitment to another…Redefining marriage has far reaching implications in our society," said Morrison.