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Obama Urges Illinois Lawmakers to Legalize Gay Marriage

The Illinois State Senate will hear a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage on Wednesday night. Speaking to the Chicago Phoenix, State Sen. Heather Steans (D) said that a vote on the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” could come before the end of the week and is expected to pass, provided all of the senators return to the state capital, Springfield, in time for the vote. The Obama administration has spoken out, urging the leaders of the president’s home state to support marriage equality.

“While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times over the weekend.

“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally,” Inouye said.

Obama made his stance on same-sex marriage public last year, and has advocated for the passing of similar legislation in Maryland, Maine and Washington in the past. A civil union law granting same-sex couples a portion of the legal rights given to married couples was passed in 2011, but these unions were still unrecognized by the federal government.

“[Obama’s] coming out in support really helped a lot,” Steans said of the administration’s statement. “I think it really has made a difference.”

Lawmakers in support of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act will be forced to pass the bill before Jan. 9, at which point newly elected state legislators will take their posts. The bill needs 30 votes to pass in the Senate before being moved to the House to seek 60 more. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has already expressed his intent to sign the bill into law should it make its way through the legislature.

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