The Supreme Court declared today that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the United States. Prior to the Court decision, gay and lesbian couples could only get married in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
The long road for marriage equality, after decades of litigation over gay marriage and gay rights, ended with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling, which states that the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will be required to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
Illinois was one of the first states to support gay marriage when it established civil unions as of June 1, 2011, when Governor Quinn signed legislation on January 31, 2011. The law allowed both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to form civil unions and provided state recognition of substantially similar legal relationships, including same-sex marriages and civil unions, entered into in other jurisdictions.
From 2007 to 2013 same-sex marriage legislation was introduced the General Assembly in successive sessions and passed the Senate in February 2013. Yet, legislators delayed a vote in the House while lobbying for votes until November 5, 2013, when the House passed an amended version of the bill by a narrow margin. The Senate approved the amended bill and Governor Quinn signed it into law on November 20.
Same-sex marriage was legally recognized in Illinois when Governor Quinn signed a law into effect statewide on June, 2014, allowing same-sex couples to apply for a marriage license and then marry after the one-day mandatory period.
On February 21, 2014, a U. S. District Court judge ruled that same-sex couples in CookCounty could marry immediately and need not wait for the law to take effect on June 1. The Civil Union date now could be counted as the marriage date.
The U.S. Supreme Courts decision is a momentous occasion for the gay and lesbian communities who have lobbied for years to have their relationships recognized as marriage by the U.S. government. The rights that marriage will afford them will be numerous, as it is now a federal law to support these marriages.
Congratulations to my LGBT friends and for all that have supported their fight for equality.