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Editorial: The best kind of Valentine’s gift

6/1/11           Oak Park/Chicago

TinKachold Diane Martino (right) Chicago wait line for

6/1/11 Oak Park/Chicago Tina Kachold and Diane Martino (right), of Chicago, wait in line for their Civil Union license with other couples at the Cook County Clerk's Office at the Daley Center on Wednesday, June 1st. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 17, 2013 6:17PM

Just two years ago Illinois made history by allowing for civil unions, but same-sex marriage was a distant, misty dream.

Supporters wouldn’t even dare call it for a vote.

On Thursday — yes, Valentine’s Day — Illinois senators showed just how far we’ve come in accepting love wherever it blooms.

Thirty-four senators — a majority plus some — approved gay-marriage legislation, marking the very first time a chamber in the Illinois Legislature passed a bill allowing for gay marriage.

It’s now up to the House to make it official, to make it clear that Illinois knows how to treat all its citizens and all its families with genuine respect and dignity.

Civil unions were a start. But history has shown time and time again there is no such thing as separate but equal.

The goal of true equality is well within reach.

A statewide poll released Thursday shows that 46 percent of registered voters think gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. In 2010, another poll by the same organization, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, found that just 34 percent supported same-sex marriage.

“These were people who changed their minds. These people were against it, but when they gave it thought, they decided the right thing to do was to do was to treat people equally,” said Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill in the House.

Harris has carefully and patiently shepherded the same-sex marriage bill the last few years, wisely waiting for a final push until enough minds had truly changed.

“They talked to family and friends, people they worship with. . . . They couldn’t see a good reason to treat one set of families any less than any other.”

The time has come, finally, to make same-sex marriage a reality in Illinois.

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