Illinois lawmakers voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill on Tuesday in a historic vote that concludes over a year of intense lobbying from both sides, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune identified two key events this year that may have contributed to the affirmative vote -- first, the Supreme Court decision that ruled the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, and second, the tolerant remarks of Pope Francis about homosexuality, namely his statement "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
The Pope's remarks have definitely made an impact, as some Catholic lawmakers who were initially undecided about the bill specifically cited his example when discussing their decision to support it. Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Ill.) commented, "As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people."
The most notable statement came from Catholic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, who echoed the Pope's words when explaining his support for the bill, stating, "For those that just happen to be gay — living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal — who am I to judge that they should be illegal?"
Madigan was an instrumental force with regards to passing the bill, as he told the Tribune that he persuaded over five lawmakers to support the legislation, which passed the House with 61 votes, just one more than the minimum needed to send it to the Senate for a final signoff.
Though Pope Francis' remarks signal a change in tone for the Catholic Church, the Church remains officially opposed to gay marriage. In response to the bill's passing, the Catholic Conference of Illinois issued a statement saying that it was "deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage."
Governor Pat Quinn applauded the House vote, stating, "Today, the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history."