Marriage in Illinois garners new supporters and an imminent Senate vote

It's a busy week for the freedom in Illinois, which could become the tenth state in the country to approve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Diverse groups of people in Illinois are speaking up and standing together for marriage as the state Senate looks to move quickly on the legislation. Here are some of the latest updates from Illinois: 

IL Senate may move on marriage law this month 

State Senate sponsors of the marriage legislation, which would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, have shifted plans for the law, deciding to approve the freedom to marry through an amendment to an existing bill. The Senate will now no longer be voting on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, and instead, it will incorporate the freedom to marry into HB4963. 

Earlier today, it looked as though the Senate could vote on marriage as early as this morning, but two supportive Senators had to attend to family emergencies, so the vote will not be taking place this week. Read more HERE

Republican Party chair urges GOP legislators to support marriage law

Yesterday, Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, voiced his personal support for the freedom to marryand asked GOP legislators to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in IL. 

He said, "More and more Americans understand that if two people want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, government should not stand in their way. Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value - that the law should treat all citizens equally."

Additionally, he emphasized that the law concerns civil marriage, saying, "The pending legislation would protect the freedom of religion. No church or religious organization would ever be required to perform a union with which it disagrees." 

Since July, Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, a coalition of young Republicans and Libertarians have been speaking out about how their conservative values compel them to support marriage for same-sex couples. 

African-American leaders in Illinois push for the freedom to marry 

Yesterday, twelve prominent African-American leaders joined together in support of the marriage legislation in Illinois. The group, including Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp, former IL Senate President Emil Jones, and Rev. Dr. Richard Tolliver, announced their support in a letter to Illinois lawmakers.

The letter reads, in part, "We remember that not long ago, some states defined marriage as limited to people of the same race. We were told marriage between people of different races was "unnatural" and that society would be eroded if marriage changed. The truth is, marriage has evolved throughout history to reflect the needs and progress of society. Today in Illinois, the rights of gay and lesbian couples to be treated as equal citizens are being violated. Treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is. Over time, equality and fairness will always win. We in Illinois have a chance to help lead the country in the right direction."

In the past year, we've seen huge national shifts in support among African-Americans, with polling tracking enormous gains in 2012. Read more about African-American support for the freedom to marry HERE.