President Obama: Legalising equal marriage in Illinois is ‘the right thing to do’

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With only one day left before the current Illinois legislative session ends, President Barack Obama has said that legalising equal marriage in the state is something he “deeply supports” and the “right thing to do”.

Speaking at a fundraising dinner in Chicago on Wednesday, Obama said he hoped the bill would pass, when it is called in the House, reports BuzzFeed.

Representative Greg Harris, the equal marriage bill’s sponsor, had said he would call the bill for a vote before the end of session, which is on Friday.

“Here in Illinois, we’ve got a vote on same-sex marriage that’s going to be coming up in the state legislature. And I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply support,” Obama said at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event.

He continued, reflecting on his own journey towards supporting marriage equality, and reiterated his strong support for measures to legalise equal marriage across the US.

“I wrestled with this for a long time and I am absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do. And we have to make sure that wherever we go, we are reminding people that the essence of America is that everybody is treated equally under the law without exception.”

Advocates of equal marriage in the state are to hold an urgent rally today at 11:30 to push the House to vote on a bill to legalise it.

Jim Bennett, the Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal, spoke at a press conference on Thursday, outside the House.

“A vote has been promised and it is time to deliver on that promise,” he said. “When you look at all the politics and all the things that have happened, when it comes down to it, it is about thousands of Illinois families and their lives.”

On Thursday 14 February, the Illinois Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats, voted 34-21 to approve the measure. Prior to the Senate vote, Governor Pat Quinn had already indicated that he would sign the bill into law.

On 11 May, he said: “It’s time to vote… Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So it’s important to Illinois [that] the House of Representatives get going.”