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Marriage Bill Introduced in Illinois

Illinois state senator Heather Steans introduced a bill that could legalize same-sex marriage in the Land of Lincoln.

Steans's bill is a companion to a civil unions bill that Rep. Greg Harris introduced to the house of representatives in January. Despite projections that the civil unions bill would pass last spring, the measure stalled at the end of the session.

According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, Steans's district encompasses an area with the state's largest population of gay and lesbian residents. She is up for reelection against Jim Madigan, a former staff attorney for Lambda Legal, as well as an interim director of Equality Illinois.

"It seems to me to be a little bit conveniently timed," Madigan said. "These issues should not be a way of scoring political points."

Nonetheless, Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, applauded the bill's introduction.

"This is not an issue of sacred versus secular -- there are plenty of synagogues and churches that both recognize and perform same-sex marriages," Cherkasov said in a statement on Thursday. "Rather, marriage is a civil right -- plain and simple. The state cannot have a civil institution of marriage -- with its plethora of benefits, rights, and responsibilities -- and exclude from it an entire class of citizens."

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