With a Valentine’s Day vote, the Illinois Senate approved a bill on Thursday that would legalise same-sex marriage.
If the full bill is passed it will make the home state of President Obama closer to becoming the 10th in the nation, plus the District of Columbia, to allow gay couples the right to wed.
The legislation passed 34 to 21, a margin many considered almost impossible, even in the Democratic-controlled legislature, just a few years ago. The result was seen not just as a hard-fought victory for gay-rights advocates in Illinois, but also as part of a broader, rapid shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage across the country.
“It wasn’t too long ago that people did not think they would see this day,” said State Representative Greg Harris, who will be advocating for the bill in the House. “A lot of parents said they didn’t think their children would see this day.”
The vote comes two years after lawmakers passed civil-union legislation in Illinois. At the time, it was considered a major victory for supporters.
Advocates said that was never the end goal. Less than a month after President Obama first voiced his support for gay marriage last spring, two dozen same-sex couples filed lawsuits in Illinois to push for full marriage rights.