SPRINGFIELD — Illinois became the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage when marriage equality legislation was signed into law five years ago on Nov. 20, 2013.
Illinois was ahead of the nation in the fight for marriage equality, as the Supreme Court did not issue its historic ruling requiring all states to issue same-sex marriage licenses until June 26, 2015.
State Senator Heather Steans ( D-Chicago ) sponsored the legislation and celebrated its signing, saying: "I couldn't be more proud of Illinois today as we become the 16th state to write equality into our marriage laws. This is a day to celebrate the hard work of so many Illinois families whose commitment to human rights and basic fairness made this moment possible."
Five years later, Steans is pleased that public support for same-sex marriage continues to grow, but emphasized that there is more work to be done.
"We took an important step five years ago," Steans said "We must ensure we do not lose ground and in fact make progress in the fight for full, equal rights for same-sex couples."
Although the law did not take effect until June 1, 2014, Chicago couple Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert made history on Nov. 27, 2013, when they became the first same-sex couple to be married in Illinois. The women, well-known gay-rights activists, were granted an expedited marriage license because Gray was living with terminal breast cancer, and her last wish was to marry her longtime partner. Gray died March 19, 2014, less than three months before the law took effect.
Since then, Cook County has recorded more than 10,000 same-sex marriage licenses.
—From a press release