FULL REPORT FROM THE CAPITOL | Gay marriage will be legal in Illinois starting June 1, after the General Assembly passed the bill today. Lawmakers in both houses approved an amended SB 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Next, it goes to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.
“Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” Quinn said in a statement. “Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation.”
But not everyone agrees. Larry Trotter, pastor of Sweet Holy Spirit Church, has been a vocal opponent of SB 10 and worked with a coalition of African American pastors in Chicago to fight the legislation. “Regardless of the passage of SB10, we’ll always believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Trotter told the Chicago Sun-Times after the vote. “Yet we will still love the members of the LGBT community. We pray God’s grace, mercy and blessings over the state of Illinois and the United States of America.”
Needing 60 votes to pass the amended bill, the Illinois House voted 61-54 in favor of it, with two voting present. Same-sex marriage advocates waited in line for a seat in the gallery as legislators debated two amendments. One amendment set the effective date, while the other reiterated protections for private clubs. Even so, church leaders are still concerned the measure may endanger their freedom to choose who can marry in their facilities.
The amended bill passed through the House to applause from a packed gallery, and Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s House sponsor, got handshakes and hugs from fellow legislators as he exited the House after the vote. SB 10 then moved back to the Senate chamber, where it was originally approved in February. Senators passed the amended bill by a vote of 32-21, with six not voting.
People on both sides of the issue had been alerted that a vote could come this week, but after last week’s turnout for a rally at the Capitol, reporters from the Illinois Baptist saw little presence of conservative Christians today.
Prior to the vote, IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams sent lawmakers a letter urging them to vote against legislation like SB 10 that seeks to redefine marriage. “I’m personally very disappointed in the state legislature’s action, and in its ramifications for churches and their freedom of speech and religious expression,” Adams said after SB 10 passed.. “I believe Baptist churches in Illinois will continue to stand on the Bible’s definition of marriage as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, while continuing to reach out in love with the Gospel message to all people.”
Messengers to the IBSA Annual Meeting will consider a resolution on same-sex marriage when they meet in Springfield Nov. 13-14. The “Resolution on the Preservation of Biblical Marriage and Affirmation of Religious Liberty of Illinois Churches and Faith-based Organizations” is available online here.