On Valentine’s Day, Illinois state Senate passes gay marriage bill

The Illinois state Senate passed a bill allowing gay couples to marry in a largely party-line vote this Valentine's Day.

The bill is expected to face a steeper climb in the House, according to the Chicago Tribune, but if politicians approve it there, Illinois could become the 10th state to allow same-sex nuptials. (Democrats control both the state House and Senate.) Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill into law if it passes.

The bill was approved 34-21 on Thursday afternoon, with only one Republican voting to support the bill.

Same-sex marriage experienced its first successes at the ballot box in November, when voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington all approved allowing the practice in referendums and initiatives. Until then, same-sex marriage had been voted down every time it was put on the ballot, which has resulted in more than two dozen states specifically banning the practice. Public support has rapidly shifted on the issue, with some national polls now showing slim majority support for allowing gay people to wed.

Many religious leaders strongly opposed the legislation in Illinois. The bill does not require ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

Lawmakers in Hawaii, Rhode Island and Delaware are also considering legislation to legalize gay marriage this year.