11/20/2013 05:42 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Not Evil But Equal: Grateful for Gay Marriage Bill

Jessica Pope is a sophomore at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, is a member of the poetry team/club and expresses herself in Louder than a Bomb. She participates in The OpEd Project's Youth Narrating Our World.

This week Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn will sign into law a gay marriage bill that will make it legally possible to marry a partner of the same sex. At the same time, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. Is calling for an "exorcism" for the "sin" of this legislation.

As a gay teen, I am not evil, but now I am equal.

Because of this law, I will be able to hold hands with a partner of the same-sex and make a commitment to marriage in the future. Now that gay marriage is set to be legalized in Illinois, joining 15 other states where such unions are legal, more Americans are realizing that everyone is equal.

A Gallup poll earlier this year showed that the majority of Americans -- 54 percent -- agreed that same sex partners should be allowed to marry. That number is exactly double the percentage of Americans who had the same opinion in 1996. This year, fewer than 46 percent of Americans said same sex marriage should not be valid.

Studies show that 8 to 9 million adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. So millions are affected; millions who deserve a chance at happiness.

Everyone has the right to happiness. The possibility of this law being signed in our state brought tears to the eyes of many of my friends who are teenagers just like I am. We are teens who are gay and we are happy because we are finally being accepted for our preference in a partner of the same sex.

Happiness is something that everyone dreams to have. If the law allows you to marry and the majority of America agrees with you, you would feel accepted like you belong in that place you would call home.

We can finally say we are proud to live in Illinois.

It has been observed that it is slightly hard for teens to find relationships with other gay teens because of not feeling accepted for who they are. But now that we can marry when we are older, we are more able to express ourselves and the love for the person in a way just like a heterosexual couple would.

The Human Rights Campaign report "Growing up LGBT"
showed there are many difficulties arising for teens from not being accepted by people or cultures around them. Nearly 57 percent of LGBT youth says that churches or places or worship in their community are not accepting of LGBT people.

Also nearly 50 percent of LGBT youth say the community they live in is not of accepting of LGBT people. Imagine how you would feel if you weren't loved or accepted for whom you are by the people around you.

Gay youth who are homeless account for 40 percent of the homeless population. Homelessness is a struggle for many teenagers not having a place to eat, sleep, and do daily things a "normal teenager" would do. At least one homeless youth, Jay Tedhen, knows how it feels. She lives by her word that it will get better as time moves forward.

That feeling of acceptance is bittersweet. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States reports that 75 percent of Americans ages 18-34 are more accepting of LGBTQ. By the next generation you can say being LGBTQ would be even more acceptable to many Americans.

When my friends and I heard the news recently that the legislature voted to make same-sex marriage legal and that all was left was for the governor to sign it into law, we let out hollow sobs filled with feelings of bliss.

We feel for the many people who have died from suicide or bullying just to show we are equal. Moving forward, we are uplifted that the law states our love is the same love that others feel. We are finally able to say, "I do."