Taking his cue from a fellow Illinoisan, Governor Pat Quinn announced his support for LGBT equality on Monday and pledged to work with state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage.
Governor Quinn, who had publicly supported civil union laws but avoided taking a stance on marriage equality until now, told NBC Chicago that his views changed in part as he reflected on the success of Illinois’ civil unions.
“We’ve had more than 3,700 civil unions in almost every county in Illinois. I think it’s working very well,” the Governor said. He also wanted to express solidarity with President Obama.
The Governor told NBC Chicago that he was “very happy to see the president speak out as he did last week and I wanted to lend my voice of support to him and to our state.”
Governor Quinn announced his intention to pass same-sex marriage through the legislature instead of relying on judicial action. “I don’t think we want to wait on courts,” he said. “I think in Illinois, we are able to show the nation that we are a state that believes in respecting everyone. Everyone has dignity and rights.”
The Windy City Times reports that Governor Quinn has had strong backing from LGBT groups in the past despite his hesitation to endorse marriage equality. Monday’s announcement is likely to strengthen those ties.
“Civil unions were a huge victory for civil rights and major progress for Illinois,” Brooke Anderson, a spokesperson for the governor, told the Windy City Times.
“It took a lot of teamwork and partnership with the General Assembly to win passage of this landmark [civil union] law, and marriage equality will as well,” Anderson said.
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