President Obama praises Illinois for passing marriage equality

The White House released a statement from President Barack Obama, praising Illinois for passing marriage equality. Obama, a former Illinois State legislator, expressed his appreciation to the Illinois lawmakers who passed the measure, as well as congratulated the LGBT citizens of Illinois who will now be granted marriage equality.

President Obama had encouraged Illinois lawmakers to pass marriage equality last December. The bill had passed the State Senate, but was pulled from the House floor due to a lack of votes in May. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris vowed to bring the bill back during the fall veto session. Today, the bill passed the House 61-30 and will be sent to Governor Pat Quinn, who vowed to sign it.

See the statement, in full:

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.

"The President’s endorsement of marriage equality, coupled with the hard work of advocates, faith leaders, and other individuals, truly helped Illinois lawmakers pass marriage equality,” said Wilson Cruz, GLAAD’s National Spokesperson. “President Obama's continued outspoken support for marriage equality in his home state shows this is not just a matter of policy, but something personal.”