Just days after a group of pro-equality lawmakers introduced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn has expressed some confusion on the topic.
The bill, backed by openly gay state representatives and other lawmakers, would create the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, making "marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children" and grant them "the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law," the Windy City Times reports.
But Quinn, despite his support from the gay community and his work on passing the state's civil union law, said Tuesday that he is not sure if he supports equal marriage in Illinois.
According to WBEZ, Quinn said he needs to study issues surrounding same-sex marriage before he makes a decision on the matter.
"We believe in civil rights, and we believe in civil unions," Quinn said after signing the civil unions law. "We believe in liberty and justice for all."
Shortly after the law went into effect, several gay rights groups joined a protest calling for marriage equality. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Join The Impact Chicago's Lauren Fleer weighed in on the issue.
"I think it's generally presumed that civil unions are the same thing as marriage and that's a mistake," Fleer said in June. "They gave us civil unions because they didn't want us to have marriage. We have one set of laws for all the straight people and now we're going to give you a separate and lesser set of laws for all you same-sex loving people and that's unacceptable."
Quinn has been widely criticized by state religious leaders for the civil unions law and his pro-choice stance. He would also have to fight social conservative groups if he came out in support of the equal marriage measure.
"Marriage was not created by man or governments," David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said after civil unions were approved. "It is an institution created by God. Governments merely recognize its nature and importance."
The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act would eliminate part of a state law that prohibits same-sex marriages, and allows religious groups to decide what marriages they will perform.