On Valentine’s Day, 33 Democrats and one Republican in the Illinois State Senate passed and sent to the House of Representatives a gay marriage bill, reflecting the growing support of same-sex marriage in the United States.
The old stomping ground of President Barack Obama, a supporter of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, seems to be on the road to accepting same-sex marriage after several failed attempts to legalize the act.
This is good news for Chicagoans Larry Harris and Reginald Holmes, who have been a couple for 14 years. Larry and Reginald live together in a home they built from the ground up, travel together and live as a married couple, but are patiently waiting to have family and friends see their union of marriage made legal in their hometown.
“People are afraid of what they don’t know or what they’re told is wrong, but we’ve waited long enough, its 2013 for God’s sake,” said the 42-year-old Harris.
Couples like Harris and Holmes hope that news of the bill passed by the Illinois Senate could encourage other states to follow suit on their own legalization of same-sex marriage. Most of all, they are awaiting the approval of the Illinois House, where Democrats hold a majority. Democratic Gov. Patt Quin has stated he will sign the bill if the House approves it .
The idea that all people want to marry for love and the urge for equality has been influenced across the country.
As of 2012, same-sex marriage has been legalized in nine states including Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington State and The District of Columbia. Thirty-eight states have banned same sex marriage, twenty-seven by Constitutional Amendment and State law, four by Constitutional Amendment only, seven by State Law only, and three states have no laws on banning or legalizing same -sex marriage. Illinois currently is among the seven states that have banned same- sex marriage by State Law only.
Illinois residents like Holmes and Harris believe they are close to getting the same marriage bill approved across the board legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the state of Illinois. The bill will allow same-sex marriage, and changing the notion that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens without the same rights as their straight counterparts but equal to those counterparts.
In the event this bill is passed by the House and signed by the governor, Illinois will become the 10th among the 9 states in the U.S to legalize same sex marriage.
A poll released on Wednesday February 13, by the Paul Simon Public Policy institute indicated that an increase of support among Illinois residents for same- sex marriage supporters has occurred in Illinois. This year showed 45.5 percent of those surveyed approved of same-sex marriage approval compared to 36.6 percent in 2010.
“We deserve to have those rights. Our family supports us and our friends, and we want to share that union official, the right way,” said Harris.
Although gay adoption is permitted in Illinois, Harris and Holmes think that their desires to adopt isn’t as urgent as it was when they began dating, as they believe that married couples are preferred for adopted children. Throughout their 14-year relationship, they’ve wanted to adopt and have their own family but think that they have been prevented by the absence of a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
“The only reason we haven’t moved is because our entire family is here and we own a lot of property. We’re older now so adoption is something we’ve given up on, but it would still be nice to know that we have that option,” Reginald Holmes, 43.