BREAKING NEWS: Marriage equality bill filed in Illinois

CHICAGO -- Illinois, which legalized civil unions last year, will now take up marriage equality.

Today, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (HB 5710) was filed in the Illinois General Assembly by state Reps. Kelly Cassidy, Greg Harris and Deb Mell.

"We commend these leaders for taking yet another step towards full equality for lesbian and gay families in Illinois, and we are grateful to them for their leadership," Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said. "This is just the beginning: the road to marriage equality is sure to be long, but it is one that we must travel together."

The bill's filing came one day after Californians celebrated the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Civil unions were an important intermediate step for the state. Cherkasov said, however, the civil union law has already proven to have substantial weaknesses and falls short of full marriage equality for all loving and committed couples in Illinois.

"In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law," Cherkasov said.

"A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love - are also equal in marriage."

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