The Illinois House voted 61-52 on Tuesday to grant gay couples some of the same rights as married heterosexual spouses, including hospital visitation, health-care decision-making and the disposal of a loved one’s remains. From Fox Illinois:
House sponsor Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, likened Senate Bill 1716 to past landmark fights for equality in granting women the right to vote and allowing interracial couples to marry.
“We have a chance today to make Illinois a more fair state, a more just state and a state which treats all of its citizens equally under the law,” he said.
Harris and state Rep. Deb Mell, D-Chicago, are the only two openly gay lawmakers in the legislature. Earlier this year, Mell announced her engagement to her partner while on the House floor.
“After six years of building a life together, committing our lives to each other – we have a strong faith in God and family – and after all that we are still not considered family,” Mell said. “And I assure you we are a family, and we deserve the same rights that you enjoy.”
The bill is expected to win approval from the Senate today before being signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. It would take effect July 1, and Illinois would become the sixth state to offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.