Illinois lawmakers introduce bill to legalize gay marriage

Illinois lawmakers have filed to legalize same sex marriage, a day after Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in California.

State Reps. Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy filed House Bill 5170, also known as the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” on Wednesday afternoon. If passed, the law would not only allow gay marriage, but would give those are already domestic partners to transition into marriage.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, says that although Illinois legalized civil unions last year, it is not enough.

“It’s very exciting to see this as the next step in the relationship recognition for same-sex couples,” said Martinez. “Although we have a lot of work ahead, it’s very exciting that with the ruling in California yesterday, today in Illinois we’re actually able to start advancing this next major goal for the community.”

Leslie Morrow, director of the LGBT Resource Center, agrees that legalizing civil unions was a good starting point, but equality still hasn’t been reached.

“While civil unions is a great step, it still regulates same-sex couples and unions to a lower status,” said Morrow. “For some, it’s a matter of semantics. For others, calling it a marriage means so much more.”

Harris said that community support is necessary for the bill to be passed.

“The people need to be very proactive in supporting equality,” said Harris. “They don’t call it a struggle for equal rights for no reason. People who believe in equal treatment under the law need to stand up and make their voices heard.”