Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday praised the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and urged state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing gay marriage.
"Today the Supreme Court took a historic step by providing equal access to more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits for same-sex couples. Members of the Illinois House now have more than 1,100 new reasons to make marriage equality the law in Illinois," Quinn said.
He added, "The opportunity to guarantee equal rights and benefits to all citizens -- under both state and federal law -- is one we must seize here in the Land of Lincoln without delay. Now is the time for all to put differences aside, band together and redouble our efforts to make it happen."
The Illinois Senate this spring passed a bill that would allow gay marriage, but the bill's sponsor never called for a vote in the House, saying the measure didn't have enough votes to pass in that chamber.
Quinn said, "I will continue working with members of the Illinois House and all of our tireless community advocates to bring marriage equality to Illinois as soon as possible."
Opponents of gay marriage in Illinois have targeted the districts of black lawmakers, including Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis, with robocalls that contain messages from black church leaders.
The Chicago-based African American Clergy Coalition issued a statement Wednesday, saying the group will continue its opposition to gay marriage.
"God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. Those of us who are believers will continue to fight for and defend God's Holy Word," the clergy coalition stated.
Jackson was not immediately available for comment. Jackson has voted against gay marriage on the committee level, but has said he could change his mind on the issue.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, who has testified against gay marriage at legislative hearings, also issued a statement.
"These hollow decisions are absolutely devoid of moral authority," Paprocki said. "It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls 'marriage' has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman."
The Catholic Conference of Illinois, whose board is made up of the bishops from each Catholic diocese in Illinois, including Bishop Edward Braxton of the Belleville Diocese, also issued a statement.
The Catholic Conference's statement follows:
"The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court's wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage comes to us through God's nature as the union of one man and one woman. The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
"The Catholic Church in Illinois and across the world will continue to promote this truth. The Catholic Conference of Illinois will work to preserve marriage and stress the disturbing lack of religious freedom protections included in Illinois' legislative efforts to redefine marriage. The bill before the Illinois legislature lacks even the minimal protections found in other state laws authorizing the redefinition of marriage, including New York, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Connecticut."