SPRINGFIELD,IL--This Valentine's Day brings with it a gift of sorts for same sex couples here in Illinois. On Thursday the Illinois state senate approved a bill allowing for gay marriages in the state.
A crowded Illinois Senate Chamber brought lots of expectations Thursday as members debated the Religious Freedom and Marriage Act which provides for gay marriages in the state.
"It's a great day when you can show up as a state senator and represent 215 thousand people and bring justice back to some of your children," Sandoval said.
"Who is the author of morality, is it the general assembly, the group of ministers? Who decides who's right and wrong? There are in facto moral absolutes," Bivins said.
Bill co-sponsor Heather Steans defended the amended version for more than two hours. It includes protections for religious freedom. Twin cities area State Senator Jason Barickman a republican supported the bill after it was amended.
"I became directly involved in negotiations on the amendment which I believe preserve religious freedom for those who do not agree with same sex marriage," he said.
After the vote the chamber erupted in applause and one supporter was ushered out of the senate galley. Chicago area same sex couple Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos say the bill helps solidify their long term union.
"Mercedes and I have been together for 21 years. We been raising two children together. We have a boy and a girl, this is really a step forward to put our family in the same equal ground as other married families," Volpe said.
"I was very nervous but I'm so relieved and just excited and it was a wonderful thing to hear all the senators who were in favor of the bill," said Same Sex Partner Mercedes Santos.
The bill now goes to the house where it's expected to be approved and if so Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign it.