Forty years ago, I never imagined that in my lifetime gay and lesbian people would be able to marry each other. But recently a friend and I drove to Chicago for the signing of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Hundreds of gay couples were there, many with their children of all ages. Some couples have been together for decades.
This law provides the protections of marriage to lesbian and gay couples and their children, and also allows married couples living in Illinois to receive more than 1,000 federal benefits that would not be available to them through civil unions.
The law protects religious freedoms. No religious organization will be forced to change its doctrines. But those religious organizations that support same-sex marriage will be free to bless those marriages.
The message to lesbian and gay youths is powerful. They can now look forward to one day marrying the one they love, regardless of gender. The law recognizes their worth, and the worth and equality of their relationships.
The process that brought Illinois to this day was long. Legislators listened to those both sides but they eventually voted for equality and love and freedom.
I am pleased and proud that my representative, Jay Hoffman, was one of those who voted "yes."