Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has said he wants gay marriage legislation to come up for a vote on Valentine's Day. (Photo courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News)
By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - An Illinois Senate committee has approved legalizing gay marriage for the second time in a month.
The Executive Committee voted 9-5 Tuesday to move legislation giving marital rights to same sex couples to the Senate floor. Democrats with a 40-member majority say they have the needed votes.
There were couples testifying before the committee, including Danielle Cook of Bloomington.
"There are thousands of same sex couples around us across Illinois. Those couples look forward to having the dignity of marriage to reflect the love and commitment they feel," Cook said. "Our relationship is a marriage. It's built on love and commitment in the same way that every marriage is constructed."
Cook said she and her partner, Suzie Hutton, had a commitment ceremony and got a civil union after the law passed in 2011. She said not everyone recognizes the designation of a civil union.
"After getting a civil union, for example, we decided to add Suzie to the healthcare plan at my work. Everyone at my employer knew that Suzie and I had been together for years. My human relations department told me they would have to get a copy of the civil union certificate before Suzie could be added to my plan," Cook said. "That department does not ask anyone for a marriage license."
The same committee OK'd a similar measure just after the New Year -- in the final days of the last General Assembly. But a floor vote was scuttled because supporters feared they were short of the 30 necessary votes.
Sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans reworded the legislation at insistence of Republicans. The Chicago Democrat says the new language makes clear that places of worship don't have to open their doors to gay-marriage ceremonies.