US: Illinois Senate to vote on equal marriage on Valentine’s Day

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The Illinois Senate may pass a bill which would legalise equal marriage in the state, and will vote on it on 14 February.

After the new General Assembly was sworn in in Illinois in January, the House Sponsor of a bill to legalise marriage equality in the state had said the measure could come to a vote “very soon”.

“I’d like to pass it out of committee next week and pass it on Valentine’s Day,” Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat who represents Chicago, told The Sun-Times editorial board.

Mr Cullerton said that the bill has the 30 votes it needs to pass and move to the House.

If approved, Illinois would become the 10th US state to allow equal marriage.

The bill’s two primary sponsors, Senators Heather Steans, a Democrat, and Republican Greg Harris, both of Chicago, are finalising the language of the legislation.

The pair are addressing concerns from religious organisations that they would be forced to hold wedding receptions for gay couples, if the bill were to pass.

Those concerned cited the fact that churches, and similar facilities have been deemed public gathering places because they were historically used as polling stations and for other community events.

In early January, although Democrats in the state of Illinois delayed a full Senate vote that was planned to make same-sex marriage legal, the Senate Committee approved the bill. Three senators were absent from the House, and so the vote did not move to the floor.

Democrats have increased their numbers in both chambers of the Senate House, which some have said could make it more likely that the bill would pass.

Representative Harris also said that he knew of hundreds of religious leaders from the state who had voiced their support for marriage equality.