The Illinois house of representatives passed a civil unions bill Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 61-52, and the state senate, where the bill was moved out of committee earlier in the day, was set to take up the matter immediately.
The legislation would provide some of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples. Gov. Pat Quinn has already pledged to sign the bill into law.
Rep. Greg Harris, the gay Chicago Democrat sponsoring the bill, invoked past discrimination against women and minorities in urging his colleagues to support the measure.
"Those traditions and those laws have changed. And I think we all believe that it changed for the better," he said, according to the Daily Herald. "Those who stood for justice, for fairness, have been remembered by history as great leaders. They've been remembered by history as being on the right side of justice. Each of us has the chance to be remembered on the right side of justice."