Plans for Illinois same-sex marriages in the works – Houston Chronicle

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Just a few hours after state lawmakers approved same-sex marriage in Illinois, Chicago wedding planner Lindsay Parrott started getting her first inquiries for summer weddings.

“I got an email at 11 p.m.,” she said. “Everybody is really excited to be able to do this.”

From the wedding industry to tourism, Illinois businesses are gearing up for June 1, the first day that same-sex marriage licenses can be issued under legislation approved by lawmakers on Tuesday. While legislators in favor and the state’s top elected officials have touted gay marriage as a matter of equality and civil rights, businesses hope the start of weddings will be a nice boost to the state’s economy too. But that start date — which falls on a Sunday — also is causing some logistical problems for the state’s county clerks who’ll be issuing marriage licenses.

Illinois is set to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Pat Quinn signs the bill, which the Chicago Democrat said Wednesday he’ll do with a festive celebration this month. The measure says that starting June 1, all Illinois couples can go about the usual way of getting married: Head to the county clerk’s office, get a license and then have it officiated a day later by the government or religious official.

However, businesses and tourism officials say it means that Illinois can expand a niche business too. They cite a 2013 study by UCLA’s The Williams Institute that says allowing same-sex couples to marry in Illinois would generate up to $103 million in new spending in the first three years.

The Illinois Office of Tourism beefed up its website Wednesday to promote gay-friendly spots in Illinois. State travel director Jen Hoelzle said the site will soon include a list of places to get married once the bill is signed. The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, which already promotes Chicago’s gay-friendly neighborhoods and events such as the city’s massive Pride Parade, expects more hotel and restaurant business.

via Plans for Illinois same-sex marriages in the works – Houston Chronicle.

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Illinois lawmakers approve gay marriage in historic vote – chicagotribune.com

Lawmakers approved gay marriage Tuesday in a historic vote that saw supporters overcome cultural, racial and geographic divides and put Illinois in line with a growing number of states that have extended the right to wed to same-sex couples.

After more than a year of intense lobbying by both sides, gay lawmakers made emotional pleas to colleagues to give their families equal rights even as opponents argued that doing so would unravel the foundation of society.

“At the end of the day, what this bill is about is love, it’s about family, it’s about commitment,” said sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, clutching an American flag he said was sent by a supportive soldier stationed in Afghanistan.

“At the end of the day, this bill is about the vision that the founders of our country had and wrote into our Constitution, where they said America is a journey. … And we’ll continue to walk down that road to make America a better place, to make ourselves a ‘more perfect union,’ to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” the Chicago Democrat said.

Gov. Pat Quinn said he intends to sign the bill, which would take effect June 1

via Illinois lawmakers approve gay marriage in historic vote – chicagotribune.com.

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Hawaii House Committees Pass Marriage Equality Bill After Five Days Of Testimony

HONOLULU — After more than 55 hours of testimony, the joint House committees voted Tuesday to pass Hawaii’s marriage equality bill, Senate Bill 1. The House Judiciary Committee and Finance Committee voted 18 to 12. The bill now goes to the full House for a final vote.

The vote comes during a special session called by Gov. Abercrombie for Hawaii’s marriage equality bill, and after a Senate hearing by the Committee of Judiciary and Labor and a full Senate vote to send the bill to the House.

Before they voted, the House committees amended Senate Bill 1 to broaden a religious exemption that allows religious leaders to refuse service for same-sex marriage ceremonies and moved the effective date from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2.

via Hawaii House Committees Pass Marriage Equality Bill After Five Days Of Testimony.

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17 years after defeat, Senate advances gay rights bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate moved forward Monday on a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians in a dramatic 61-30 vote. But opposition from the House speaker means the bill may not get to President Obama’s desk.

The Senate vote was not without suspense. With Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., at a funeral, Democrats needed last-minute support from two Republicans to get the 60 votes necessary to prevent a filibuster. Democratic leaders went into the Republican cloakroom to plead with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. After half an hour of voting, both voted yes.

The vote clears the way for the Senate to consider the issue for the first time since 1996, when it failed in the Senate by a single vote.

The last House effort to pass the bill succeeded,235 to 184, in a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2007. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reaffirmed his long-standing opposition to the bill Monday, making it unlikely the House will schedule a vote. “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small-business jobs,” Boehner press secretary Michael Steel said.

via 17 years after defeat, Senate advances gay rights bill.