Ill. legislature may vote on gay marriage

Dec. 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Illinois legislature could legalize same-sex marriage in the state during its lame-duck session, two lawmakers say.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said Thursday they plan to introduce a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and ensure religious groups aren't forced to perform gay weddings, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Steans and Harris said they are "within striking distance" of majority support in the Assembly, although they refused to say how many representatives are committed to their side.

"Public sentiment is moving fast on this," Steans said, pointing to support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. President Barack Obama. "It's just a wave now."

With referendums in November that legalized gay marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington state, same-sex couples can marry in nine states and the District of Columbia. In six states, gay marriage became legal through court decisions, starting with Massachusetts in 2004, or through legislative action.

Quinn has said he would sign an Illinois bill. The state recognized civil unions for same-sex couples last year.

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