A Happy Valentine’s Day: Illinois Senate Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage

Last Thursday, Illinois took a significant step toward becoming the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage. While the measure remains at the mercy of the state House, the Democratic governor has said she will sign it if it reaches her.

The New York Times explained the significance of the vote, which passed with remarkable ease:

The legislation passed 34 to 21, a margin many considered almost impossible, even in the Democratic-controlled legislature, just a few years ago. The result was seen not just as a hard-fought victory for gay-rights advocates in Illinois, but also as part of a broader, rapid shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage across the country.

BuzzFeed posted a gif of the post-vote revelry among legislators (via HuffPo):

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Sentiment regarding same-sex marriage is rapidly evolving. Thursday’s vote came only two years after Illinois legalized civil unions, which at the time was “considered a major victory” according to the Times.

The Huffington Post reported the numbers behind that evolution:

A poll released Wednesday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 45.5 percent of respondents approved of marriage equality — up from 33.6 percent in 2010. Only 20 percent of respondents opposing any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

Even the Chairman of the Illinois Republicans has backed gay marriage, as reported in the same article—although that led to an attempted revolt against him. Another sign of the current limits to progress: only one Republican state legislator voted for Thursday’s measure—but that support, from Senator Jason Barickman, was remarkable in its own right, eliciting “audible gasps” in the chamber.

Reuters contextualized the Valentine’s Day push for equal rights nationwide:

The Illinois drive to legalize gay marriage coincided with a national campaign by a coalition of gay rights groups to highlight the issue on Valentine’s Day.

As part of what they call “Freedom to Marry Week,” same-sex couples will request marriage licenses in 18 places around the country, including a number of states where same sex-marriage is not legal.

“These laws are unjust and immoral, and we are confronting those laws head-on across the country,” said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, a gay rights group.

The Harman Firm celebrates the continued progress of equal opportunities for all Americans. Unfortunately, enormous work remains to be done. Discrimination against workers for their sexual orientation remains legal in most of the country—but not in New York. If you have been treated unfairly at work for any reason, we can help you determine whether you have cause for legal action. Contact The Harman Firm today.