But proponents launched an equally aggressive campaign with help from unions, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and the ACLU. They billed the measure as a matter of civil rights and equality for families.
The measure passed the Illinois House earlier this month by a narrow margin 61-54; It needed 60 votes to pass.
Although Illinois once appeared poised to become the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage in the Legislature, Minnesota did it sooner and started holding its first same-sex weddings over the summer. Iowa allows gay marriages too because of a court ruling, not a legislative vote.
When the law takes effect June 1, same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses. And Cook County —the state’s most populous — has even said it’ll be open for business that day even though it’s a Sunday.
There’s a small chance weddings could take place before then; Legislation is pending that could change the effective date to immediately. Lawmakers aren’t expected to gather for regular session until the end of January.