Illinois is now the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Wednesday in Chicago that makes the state the largest in the Midwest to legalize gay weddings. The law takes effect in June when county clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
â??This new law is an epic victory for equal rights in America,â?? Governor Quinn said. â??Illinois is moving forward. We are a model for our country. If the Land of Lincoln can achieve marriage equality, so can every other state in the nation.â??
Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011, but it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.
When 2013 began advocates hoped Illinois would've been the 10th state, but watched as other states passed it. Hawaii approved it last week. Illinois' measure passed through the Senate in February, but the House sponsor said he didn't have the votes. It wasn't called until this month and passed by a very close margin.
Attendees to the event Wednesday included constitutional officers Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White.
The state lawmakers at the Wednesday event are the bill's main sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago and Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie. Chicago and Cook County officials are in attendance too, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago aldermen.
Numerous members of the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign are also on hand. Advocates launched a fierce campaign over the past few months that included help from unions and business.