The Illinois legislature has finally, finally, approved marriage equality:
Gov. Pat Quinn said he intends to sign the bill, which would take effect June 1. It's the Democratic governor's latest step in taking Illinois in a more liberal direction. Under Quinn in the past three years, Illinois has banned the death penalty, legalized medical marijuana, provided driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and approved civil unions.
Resolving the gay marriage question also allows state leaders to get a divisive issue off their plates before next year's big statewide election, even as long-standing financial issues headlined by the state's $100 billion public worker pension shortfall remain unresolved.
The vote Tuesday capped a year in which prospects for gay marriage often were dim. The proposal failed in a January lame-duck session, but the Illinois Senate provided new hope on Valentine's Day by passing the measure. There was no House vote at the end of spring session in late May, leaving both sides to spend the summer and fall lobbying lawmakers. The first week of veto session came and went without a vote last month, and with candidate filing for next year's election just weeks away, some expected no resolution until next year.
Also yesterday, Democrat Terry McAulliffe beat Republican Ken Cucinelli for Virginia governor, ending almost 30 years of Republican rule in the state. But the final vote came a lot closer than expected, suggesting that the HealthCare.gov debacle hurt McAulliffe.