President Obama applauds Illinois for becoming the 15th freedom to marry state

Last night, shortly after the Illinois House of Representatives took a decisive vote in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples across the state of Illinois, President Barack Obama issued a statement applauding the decision. President Obama, of course, previously served in the Illinois Senate before being elected to the United States Senate. 

President Obama said:

Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.

As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.

I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.

As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.

For the past two years, President Barack Obama and his administration have been increasingly vocal advocates for the freedom to marry, beginning with his announcement in February 2011 that the Obama administration believes that DOMA is unconstitutional. In May 2012, he made history by becoming the first sitting president to voice personal support for same-sex couples' freedom to marry. Last fall, he weighed in on four key marriage ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, asking residents there to support marriage for same-sex couples. He has expressed similar support for legislative marriage bills in Rhode Island and his home state of Illinois. And in his inaugural address in January, he called for the freedom to marry for all couples, saying, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

The House version of the marriage bill must now return for approval to the Senate, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage in February, and will then be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, a strong marriage supporter, but Illinois is now all but certain to become the 15th state to approve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

Learn more about the freedom to marry in Illinois HERE