Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill to legalize marriage equality.
State Representatives Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Deb Mell (D-Chicago), introduced the legislation.
Called “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act”, the legislation seems to closely mirror that which was so successful in New York by making it expressly clear that, per existing law, religious freedom of speech will not be compromised.
“The time for full marriage equality in Illinois is right now,” Cassidy said. ”Our relationships and our families are just as worthy of the same rights and protections that heterosexual couples receive. Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that it is not in the government’s interest to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Today, we are taking the first step in asking the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill that would provide equal protection for everyone.”
House Bill 5170 — the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” — would provide same-sex couples and their children with the same marital legal protections, rights, responsibilities, and status as opposite-sex couples. Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington D.C. The legislation filed on Wednesday would not impact religious institutions.
“The Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act will give all of us in the LGBTQ community the rights we deserve,” Cassidy said. ”The fight for full equality in our state will be a long and arduous one, but it is a fight that I am proud to be in and a fight that I am ready to wage. My partner and our family are no less important than any opposite-sex couple in America. We should be treated as such.”
Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who was the lead sponsor of the state’s civil unions law and has before introduced marriage equality legislation, is quoted as saying the bill “marks the next step in our journey toward full marriage equality in our state,” but he stressed, “It’s not going to happen quickly, it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work.” He also highlighted that the bill is specifically designed to deal with the transition from civil unions to full marriage equality.
This move follows a number of recent successes in other states, including the Washington legislature this week approving a marriage equality bill.