CHICAGO
05/21/2013 12:46 pm ET | Updated May 21, 2013

Bill Clinton Gay Marriage: Former President Urges Illinois To Approve Marriage Equality Bill

AP

Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday threw his support behind legislation that could soon legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Clinton urged the Illinois House to approve the bill in a looming vote in a statement distributed by LGBT advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

"Our nation's permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ – deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community," Clinton said in a statement. "That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in Illinois, with marriage equality."

Clinton's endorsement came on the heels of a report that marriage equality advocates in Illinois believe they have lined up the number of votes they need to get the bill approved before the state legislature's spring session adjourns on May 31.

"I have absolutely no doubt we're going to be done with this by May 31," Jim Bennett, Lambda Legal's Midwest regional director, told the Windy City Times. "I believe that this bill is going to pass."

"The votes are, indeed, there," Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov confirmed to ChicagoPride.com.

A date for when the bill may be brought up for vote has not yet been made public, though the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, has repeatedly said he will call the bill when it has the votes it needs to pass.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn again on Monday urged the state House to pass the bill and send it to his desk for a signature. In a Monday address at the City Club of Chicago, he counted it among his top two priorities for the session's remaining days, the Associated Press reports. Earlier this month, he emphasized that "it's time to vote" on the bill.

Illinois' marriage bill previously won the support of President Barack Obama. The bill was approved by the state Senate in a Valentine's Day vote earlier this year and advanced toward a full House vote later that month.

If Illinois' bill is signed into law, the land of Lincoln would become the 13th U.S. state to have legalized same-sex marriage.

Gay Marriage In The United States

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