SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A day after the Illinois General Assembly finally approved marriage equality legislation, Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he would sign it into law “soon” — most likely by the end of the month.
In a ceremony at his office in the State Capitol, the bill’s chief sponsors, Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), delivered the bill to Quinn, who congratulated them for their work and dedication.
“This is how democracy works,” Quinn said upon receiving the bill.
Harris told BuzzFeed the ceremony was likely the first of its kind in the state.
With Quinn’s signature, the law will take effect June 1, 2014, making same-sex couples eligible for marriage licenses. However, Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) is floating an amendment that would speed up the date on which the legislation would go into effect. Both Harris and Steans said that while they have not seen the amendment, they would be happy to consider it.
“We just got it passed, we delivered it to the governor, we’re looking forward to getting it done, and it’s going to be the law of the land very soon,” Steans said. “We will look at the effective date.”
Such an amendment would require another vote on the bill, which is unlikely, sources told BuzzFeed.
The House, where the bill had been stalled for several months, finally approved the legislation Tuesday in a close 61-54 vote. The Senate then easily passed a concurrence vote, allowing it to land on Quinn’s desk.
Quinn, a powerful proponent of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, made passing the bill a top priority in the legislature this year, calling it a “paramount” civil rights issue.
After the bill passed, Quinn said the House put Illinois “on the right side of history.”
“Illinois is a place that embraces all people, and today we are an example for the nation,” he said.
Later Tuesday night, Quinn hosted a marriage equality victory party, where elected officials and supporters of the bill celebrated. At one point, Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach) paused the party to propose to his partner, Lowell Jaffe. The couple and their children stood with Quinn and thanked the governor for inadvertently throwing an engagement party for them.
“I’ve been carrying around this ring for about a year now,” Yingling, standing with his fiancé and children, told reporters. “We decided not to get a civil union because it perpetuates second-class citizenship.”