Victory! As Illinois Becomes 15th Marriage State Lambda Legal Celebrates

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November 5, 2013
Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos, plaintiffs in Lambda Legal's Illinois marriage lawsuit.

With a vote of 61-54, today the Illinois House of Representatives passed The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, a historic vote that sends the bill first to the Senate for a concurring vote and then to Governor Pat Quinn who has pledged to sign it.

Read our FAQ: Illinois Marriage Law.

Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal, said:

It’s a fabulous day for Illinois!  The Illinois House of Representatives finally made legal what the majority of Illinoisans have long understood--that love is love and all families deserve to be treated as equal under the law. Same-sex couples and their children can celebrate a new era of equality in the Land of Lincoln.  With the 5th most populous state in the union embracing the freedom to marry, we have moved much closer to bringing equality to all Americans. This victory will be a catalyst in our ongoing efforts to achieve full equality across all fifty states. This was an enormous group effort and along with the leadership from the House, Senate and Governor’s office we’d like to thank our colleagues at the ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois, all of the members of the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign and advocates from across the state who called, wrote letters and made visits to their elected officials.

Governor Quinn has pledged to sign the bill, making Illinois the 15th state in the country and the third in the Midwest to grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Once signed, the law will go into effect June 1st, 2014.

Lambda Legal congratulates and thanks the bill’s sponsor in the House of Representatives, Representative Greg Harris, the sponsor in the Senate, Senator Heather Steans, and Governor Quinn.

The vote in Illinois comes during the latest surge of momentum across the country: On Oct. 21, New Jersey became the 14th state with the freedom to marry following Lambda Legal’s victory after 11 years of litigation. Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And soon, we hope Hawai’i’ will approve a marriage equality law in the state where Lambda Legal litigated its first marriage case and the modern marriage equality movement began. After today’s victory, same-sex couples have won the freedom to marry in Illinois, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C.

Together, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois each filed lawsuits on May 30, 2012, representing a total of 25 same-sex couples from across the state of Illinois seeking the freedom to marry. Once the new law goes into effect the lawsuits will be moot and the groups will file papers seeking to have the cases dismissed.

Timeline: Lambda Legal Fighting for Marriage in Illinois

Learn more about ILove, our Illinois marriage campaign.

Meet the couples in our lawsuit and learn about our case, Darby v. Orr.

Read the press release.