Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel invoked his own marriage Sunday at a downtown brunch, honoring lawmakers and others who helped usher in same-sex marriage in Illinois.
“June 5th was Amy’s and my 20th year anniversary in our marriage," Emanuel said to a room of about 220 people. "I said then that marriage is not a destination but a journey... This is a milestone a great milestone, but we have many many more miles to travel on this journey."
Billed as an “exceptional champagne brunch,” the event at the JW Marriott hotel in the Loop was thrown by Equality Illinois, a major advocacy group for same-sex marriage that lobbies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Illinois.
It comes a week after the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act took effect, prompting many same-sex couples across the state to marry or convert their civil unions to marriages.
"It is finally true in Illinois, there is no longer straight marriage or gay marriage. There is only marriage in the eyes of the law," Emanuel said.
The "Freedom to Marry Tribute Reception" was held in the hotel's Burnham Ballroom. Reserved seats at the event cost $40 and a table cost $400, according to the Equality Illinois website.
In addition to state lawmakers who sponsored the bill, guests included Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the same-sex bill into law.
Quinn, who spoke after Emanuel, recalled key moments around the bill signing. In recent weeks, Quinn has used the law to distinguish himself from Republican gubernatorial challenger Bruce Rauner, who has left the door open to repealing it.
"If I wasn't there to sign the bill... we wouldn't be here today," said Quinn who did not name Rauner by name. "That is a lesson to all of us that getting involved in election campaigns and politics and democracy is indispensable."
Quinn put his signature on the historic measure in November 2013. The action made Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage, capping a 40-year push for gay rights that picked up major momentum during the past decade.
The new law changed the definition of marriage in Illinois from an act between a man and a woman to one between two people. Civil unions can be converted to marriages within a year of the law going on the books. At the time Quinn signed the bill, about 6,500 applications for civil unions had been filed since 2011, with about 4,000 originating in Cook County.
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