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Illinois Nears Adoption of Same-Sex Marriage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) - The Illinois Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill on Valentine's Day, bringing the state one step away from becoming the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage.

Approved by 31-21 vote, the bill now moves to the House, where it is expected to face a tougher challenge.

Gov. Pat Quinn urged the House to pass the bill.

Opponents call it an attack on the religious institution of marriage and say it's unnecessary, as Illinois state passed a civil union law in 2010 that gave same-sex couples most of the legal rights of heterosexual marriages.

Opponents also claimed that the Legislature should focus on more pressing needs, such as the state's financial crisis.

Even if the state House approved the bill, same-sex couple won't have all of the rights of traditional married couples, such as filing joint federal income taxes, as the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents it.

But advocates say the measure is important because of the symbolism it carries.

The bill does not require religious institutions to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, but opponents claim it opens up the possibility of lawsuits against religious institutions that refuse to do it.

Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington all allow same-sex marriages.

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