Equality Rises To Fifteen, Now Sixteen

Nick Dimico

Excitement abounds in the LGBTQA community due to a change in same-sex marriage laws for the state of Illinois.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Illinois House and Senate voted to allow same-sex couples to marry, paving the way for the state to become the 15th in the country to allow same-sex marriage.

With 60 votes needed to pass the bill at the state House level, it barely made it with a vote of 61-54. An hour and a half later, the state Senate quickly passed the bill, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill into legislation soon.

Currently, 14 states and Washington D.C. allow same-sex couples to wed, and Illinois will make it 15.

The states that allow same-sex marriages are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and our neighbor state, Washington.

Minutes after the bill was passed in the states House, President Obama weighed in via twitter, stating, “This is huge: The Illinois House just passed marriage equality. #LoveIsLove.”

Following the President’s tweet, he tweeted yet again with a picture saying, “Congratulations! Love is Love in Illinois”

bobama

The bill had to return to the Senate, since the House added an amendment to make June 1 the effective date of the legislation, rather than 30 days after Gov. Quinn signs the measure.

The vote comes two weeks after same-sex marriages began in New Jersey, where the state dropped its legal appeal to prohibit the weddings.

According to The Advocate, openly gay Rep. Greg Harris, a primary sponsor of the bill from Chicago, announced last May that he wouldn’t call a vote on the legislation since he wasn’t sure it had enough support for approval.

Approval of the bill brought positive responses from a few University of Idaho students.

“The passing of gay marriage in Illinois, marking it the 15th state to lawfully allow all love, is another triumph of success in the Human Rights Movement,” said Maggie Saye, 22, sociology. “It’s amazing to be a part of this progressive generation that is pushing for marriage equality. Watching these states lead by example truly gives me hope for our moral code.”

“Progressive thinking is contagious! So exciting,” said Bry Larrea, 22, University of Idaho Graduate.

As another state provides marriage equality, Hawaii decided to join in on the movement giving it the possibility to make it the 16th state.

Hawaii’s House passed a same-sex marriage bill late Friday, and the state joined the activity comprised of lawsuits and legislation that has been growing since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June.

After 12 hours, the Hawaii House passed the bill with a 30-19 vote just after 10 p.m. on Friday, which is just three days after the bill was approved in Illinois.

Votes were counted at the capitol building in Honolulu and hundreds of people squeezed into the capitol rotunda, wearing rainbow-colored leis, while cheering, dancing, and waving giant rainbow flags.

The Hawaii Senate, which passed a similar marriage bill 20 to 4 last month, were likely to pass the bill again. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused. Now that the bill has been passed it will be sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, where he said multiple times that he will sign the bill into legislation. It will allow thousands of same-sex couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2

“As a part of the LGBT community, I feel it’s an important time in history when same-sex marriage becomes legal in another state,” said Dan B., 36, Washington State University graduate. “It means that we are slowly achieving our goal for equality for all.”

The spread of same-sex marriage has been rapid. In 2013 alone, Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island began allowing nuptials. New Jersey courts, citing the Supreme Court decision from June, said same-sex marriage could proceed in New Jersey, and weddings began there last month.

The Supreme Court struck down a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples who were married under state law. The court’s decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married can now take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits available to married couples.

On Friday, four Boise couples filed a lawsuit at U.S. District Court seeking the right to same-sex marriage. The lawsuit covers those who were married elsewhere and want their nuptials to be legally recognized, as well as those seeking to wed.

So, as you can see we are moving forward and hopefully someday we can have equality in all 50 states, but for now I’m happy with one more making room for equal rights.

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