President Obama is urging lawmakers in his home state to legalize same-sex marriage.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Democrats Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris intend to put the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act up for a vote during January’s lame-duck session. The act would legally recognize same-sex marriages and make Illinois the 10th state in the country to do so.
Illinois passed a civil union law in 2011, which gave same-sex couples many of the same legal rights afforded to married couples. However, it fell short of granting same-sex couples full marriage rights.
The Sun-Times reports that Obama supports the effort in Illinois to extend marriage rights to all couples:
“While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.
“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally,” Inouye said.
This is not the first time Obama has weighed in on marriage equality in individual states. Prior to the November 2012 election, Obama publicly endorsed same-sex marriage ballot initiatives in Washington, Maryland, and Maine. In May, he became the first sitting president to announce his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.
Both support and opposition from religious leaders have been strong on the issue. In an open letter, more than 200 Illinois clergy members signed their support for marriage equality, calling the bill “morally just” and adding that there is “no justification for the law treating people differently on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, Cardinal Francis George called same-sex marriage laws “legal fiction” in a letter on Tuesday, and urged Catholics in Illinois to contact legislators to oppose the bill.
Update 6:00 p.m. ET - Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady asked his colleagues to support the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act on Wednesday as the Illinois Senate convened to discuss the issue. Brady told the Illinois Review that he believes legalizing same-sex marriage is an “equality issue,” and that the “true conservative position is in favor” of allowing it.