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Illinois: Passing Marriage Equality by Two Votes

So yesterday.

Yesterday, after much debate on the floor, the Illinois House passed SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (we've learned what these things need to be called). The Senate quickly voted it through, and when our governor, Pat Quinn, signs it, people can start applying for marriage licenses in Illinois on June 1st, 2014.

Of course, it wasn't quick. Illinois will be the 15th state to pass marriage equality, which is far down the line, but not like Arkansas-far. Hawaii's looking like a probable 16th. Prior to last year, only six states had passed legislation supporting marriage equality, so it's jumped from six to fifteen in two years, and from opponents being able to say they've never lost a popular vote on the issue to having to resort to arguments like "But that bakery in Washington."

Not that I want this to be an antagonistic post. This was a very, very long time coming in Illinois and I'm still in shock over it having passed. Thank you, legislators. Thank you lobbyists and letter-writers and people who called their representatives and thank you, Pope Francis. Sincerely.

[Pope Francis's] comments sparked a wave of soul-searching by several Catholic lawmakers who had battled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sworn duty to represent their constituents who were increasingly supportive of gay rights even as Cardinal Francis George remained opposed.

"As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people," said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora who voted for the bill after spending much of the summer undecided.

Growing up in an upper middle class WASPish home as a straight-laced Christian girl who just wanted to get married to some man whose work she could support someday (seriously), I never ever thought I'd be sitting at a computer watching lawmakers argue over whether me getting married in a super-cute ceremony that later involved dancing to Andy Williams would "fundamentally change the structure of society." 

Damn you, Andy Williams and your

Because a lot of this is people being scared. They don't know what's going to happen. As far as the historical record's shown, we've never had widespread gay marriage in our world. I mean, what the results have shown so far has been this:

I don't need to deal with your perfect family, Neil Patrick Harris

But who knows what else could happen, right? So it's new and scary and eventually people will realize that NOTHING has happened and they'll all calm down like they did about interracial marriage and women wearing pants.

Thinking about the fact that as of next year, I can walk up and get a marriage license and just be "married" instead of "domestic partnered" or "civil unioned" is astounding to me. It seems almost unbelievable. When I first truly realized that dating girls was an actual option that life offered me, it felt unreal. "Wait, I can HAVE that? Really truly? But that makes everything so much better. I can really do it?"

Adding marriage to that possibility makes me ridiculously joyful and giggly. 

The vote ended with me weeping at my desk and my beloved friend Katie-Anne coming up to give me a hug because NO WEEPING IN RECEPTION. It's going to take a while to really sink in and realize that as of next June, if you're married in Illinois, you're just married. Like a normal marriage, with no qualifiers or emergency room confusion. Applying for a marriage license won't be an act of civil disobedience. You won't feel weird writing 'wedding' on an invitation. And you won't have to march around the Capitol Building chanting poorly-written but well-intentioned rhymes.

Briefly proud of you, Illinois. Immensely proud of your lawmakers. You're a good state.


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