Updated story

Marriage equality proponents in Illinois hit more delays Thursday after the absence of a number of supportive lawmakers in Springfield delayed a floor vote on same-sex marriage.

The measure, however, still saw a hearing Thursday during which the Senate Executive Committee approved it in an 8-5 vote along party lines, according to the Associated Press.

Per the Chicago Phoenix, Senate Democrats confirmed that the absence of senators due to family emergencies had left the bill's fate in a Thursday vote before the state Senate "uncertain" and ultimately delayed until possibly next week. But proponents for the bill emphasized that, despite the delay, the measure is not dead.

The Thursday delay arrived on the heels of Republican lawmakers blocking an attempt to fast-track the bill to the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday, as the vote was taken before some supportive lawmakers were present, according to the Pantagraph. Those lawmakers had been expected to be in attendance Thursday, but that was not the case.

State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, previously told NBC Chicago she has enough votes for the measure to be approved by the state Senate. In a change of strategy, the gay marriage language was attached as an amendment to HB4963, a bill concerning car rentals and the Collateral Recovery Act, the Windy City Times reports.

(Scroll down for live updates on gay marriage in Illinois.)

On Wednesday, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, star of ABC's "Modern Family," lent his support to the legislation and helped launch a "Bow Tie Lobby Day." Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady also on Wednesday called on his fellow Republicans to support the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Brady noted his efforts came as a citizen, and not as part of his official role with the Illinois Republican Party.

The bill still awaits full votes in the state Senate and the state House, which could take up the matter as early as Sunday. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has already vowed to sign the legislation.

If the bill passes, Illinois will become the 10th state in the union -- and its second-most populous to date -- to legalize gay marriage.

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A rally is being organized for Saturday in support of the marriage equality bill. It is set to begin at 12 p.m. at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph.

This is the final update to this live blog for Thursday.

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The gay marriage bill still needs to be approved by both the state House of Representatives, which has been considered more conservative than the state Senate, and by the full state Senate. According to the Windy City Times, the House will convene on Jan. 6 and 7, when the bill may be considered. Then, the Senate may take up the bill on Jan. 8, the final day of the lame-duck legislative session. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has already said he will sign the bill.

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@ davemckinney123 : Possible floor vote TUESDAY, Steans says.

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@ davemckinney123 : On party-line vote, same-sex marriage bill passes Senate Exec Committee 8-5.

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@ cehurley : Read the text of the proposed gay marriage bill in Illinois http://t.co/kJGLvagm

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@ ILSenDems : #SenExec now hearing from opponents of Marriage Equality leg.

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@ JamesCappleman : Richard and I yearn for the privilege of marriage in Illinois. No special rights, but the same rights that others already have.

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@ kylehillman : #RogersPark #Chicago couple giving testimony supporting #ilEquality bill - citing difficulties with civil unions. #twill #lgbt

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@ christintello : In the committee hearing for the IL equal marriage bill. Finally. Been waiting since 11:00 today

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  • New York

    New York lawmakers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/24/new-york-gay-marriage_n_907901.html" target="_blank">legalized same-sex marriage on July 24, 2011</a>, making it the largest state at the time to pass such legislation.

  • Maryland

    Voters in Maryland <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">approved marriage equality in the November 2012 election</a>. Initially, the gay marriage bill was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on March 1, 2012, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force the issue back onto the ballot. With the passing of marriage equality, same-sex marriage <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/maryland-gay-marriage_n_2389044.html" target="_blank">ceremonies began on Jan. 1, 2013</a>.

  • Connecticut

    Connecticut's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/10/connecticut-gay-marriage_n_133605.html" target="_blank">ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry on Nov. 12, 2008</a>, making it the third state in the nation to do achieve marriage equality.

  • Iowa

    Iowa's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/iowa-gay-marriage-ban-rul_n_182782.html" target="_blank">ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional</a> on April 3, 2009.

  • Maine

    Maine <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">made history in the November 2012 election</a> when it became the first state to pass marriage equality on the ballot. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage." Just three years ago, a popular vote overturned legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

  • Massachusetts

    Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-legal-same-sex-marriage-performed-in-massachusetts" target="_blank"> legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004</a>. The state's Supreme Court initially found the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional on Nov. 18, 2003.

  • New Hampshire

    Same-sex couples were able to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-6042937.html" target="_blank">begin seeking marriage licenses</a> on Jan. 1, 2010.

  • Vermont

    Vermont, which invented civil unions, became <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/07/vermont-legalizes-gay-mar_n_184034.html" target="_blank">the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislature's vote</a> -- overriding the governor's veto. Same-sex couples were able to begin marrying on Sept, 1, 2009.

  • Washington D.C.

    Gay couples were able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/01/gay-marriage-dc-council-p_n_375435.html" target="_blank">begin marrying in the nation's capital</a> on March 9, 2010.

  • California

    The state initially began conducting gay marriages on June 16, 2008. On November 5, 2008, however, California <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/proposition-8-timeline_n_3503512.html" target="_blank">voters passed Proposition 8</a>, which amended the state's constitution to declare marriage as only between a man and a woman. On June 26, 2013, by a 5-4 vote, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/hollingsworth-v-perry-ruling_n_3438269.html" target="_blank">the Supreme Court justices held in Hollingsworth v. Perry</a> that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial, opening the door for marriages to resume in the state.

  • Washington

    On February 13, 2012, Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/washington-gay-marriage-signed-chris-gregoire_n_1273887.html" target="_blank">signed a law allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies</a> to begin on June 7, 2012. The process was delayed by gay marriage opponents who gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a state vote in November 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/09/washington-gay-marriage-law_n_2266574.html" target="_blank">Gay marriage passed on November 7, 2012.</a> The official determination for Washington did not come until one day after the election because of the state's mail-in voting system.

  • Rhode Island

    Gay marriage came to Rhode Island when Governor Lincoln Chafee <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/gay-marriage-minnesota-rhode-island_n_3686034.html" target="_blank">signed the marriage equality bill</a> into law on May 2, 2013.

  • Delaware

    Delaware obtained gay marriage when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/delaware-gay-marriage-law-_n_3232771.html" target="_blank">Governor Jack Markell signed the marriage equality bill it into law</a> on May 7, 2013.

  • Minnesota

    Minnesota same-sex couples achieved marriage equality when Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislation into law <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/minnesota-gay-marriage-legal-_n_3275484.html" target="_blank">on May 14, 2013</a>.

  • New Jersey

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/cory-booker-same-sex-marriage_n_4134116.html?&ir=Gay%20Voices&utm_hp_ref=gay-voices" target="_blank">began marrying same-sex couples</a> at City Hall at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2013.

  • Hawaii

    Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed same-sex marriage into law on Nov. 13, 2013, making it the 15th state to pass such legislation.

  • Illinois

    Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, with the House <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/illinois-gay-marriage_n_4220793.html" target="_blank">having passed the bill on Nov. 5</a>. and Gov. Pat Quinn signing the legislation on Nov. 20.

  • New Mexico

    On Dec. 19, the New Mexico Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/new-mexico-gay-marriage_n_4474507.html?ir=Gay%20Voices" target="_blank">unanimously ruled</a> that same-sex marriage rights are protected under the Constitution.