Semi-celebration for same-sex couples

Published 02/14 2013 04:53PM

Updated 02/14 2013 06:20PM

SPRINGFIELD -- This Valentine's Day is extra special for same sex couples in the state. They're one step closer to being able to get married. The state senate passed a bill Thursday afternoon to legalize gay marriage. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels has more about what some say is a big win.

Gay couples say this is literally a day they thought would never come. So, when the vote came down, the crowd lit up.

"I don't cry easily, but I was crying when I was watching that vote count come in."

This Valentine's Day is one to remember for Jim Bennett and thousands of others around Illinois. It's the day the state senate said, "yes" to gay marriage.

"I'm horrible at remembering Valentine's Day, so this will be my gift to my partner, Terry."

They've been together for more than a decade.

"He asked me to marry him in 2000, and I just kind of laughed because I couldn't even think of it as a real possibility."

A possibility that's now becoming more like reality.

"It's been 13-years now, and I'm ready to make it real and it's really within our grasp. I'm really excited."

The measure would let Bennett and others have the same marriage rights as straight couples. It's something supporters say would be life-changing.

"I've seen that all of those doors that have been closed to me in the past can be open and I believe they will be open."

But, critics aren't so sure. They say the bill is too vague and will create more headaches than happiness. Still, gay couples say it's a matter of their civil rights and are setting their sights on the future.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to get over to the house side and get the governor to sign this and start planning my wedding."

The house still has to weigh in on this bill, then it would go to the governor. Quinn has said he would sign the bill if it gets to his desk.

Thursday's vote didn't quite go along party lines. Just one republican senator, Jason Barickman, voted in favor of the bill. Two democrats, one in the house and one in the senate filed a resolution demanding the state keep the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.

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