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Illinois legalizes same-sex marriages, joining 15 other states

Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday that would make Illinois the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriages.

Speaking to more than 2,000 people at a ceremony held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Quinn said the new law makes sure that the state “does not have a situation where individuals are discriminated against in any way when it comes to love and marriage.”

“Love never fails, and I’m going to sign this bill right now,” he said, signing his signature on the same desk that President Abraham Lincoln used to pen his first inaugural address.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a gay rights measure into law in 2005, an effort that previously failed to pass for nearly 40 years. Quinn signed a bill in 2011 that recognized civil unions, but the Associated Press reports that the gay rights push in the state initially faced resistance from several top lawmakers, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“We’ve realized that to have a forward-looking state, you cannot have backward-looking laws that discriminate against good and talented people, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Emanuel said Wednesday.

The new law won’t take effect until June 1, 2014. Gay marriages are allowed in 15 states and Washington, D.C., including Hawaii who signed a bill last week to allow gay marriage.

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