Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, predicted the legislation would have far-reaching impact throughout Illinois, saying even school curriculum will be changed to recognize gay marriage.

"People have the right to live as they choose," McCarter said. "They don't have the right to redefine marriage for all of us. . . . We are jeopardizing freedom, not expanding it."

McCarter took issue with choosing Valentine's Day to pass the bill in the Senate, saying the vote was "scheduled on the holiday to celebrate love to disguise what is truly a devaluing of traditional marriage."

Sen. Willie Delgado, D-Chicago, called for an end to prejudice against gay and lesbian couples, saying all citizens are the same "in the Lord's eyes."

Delgado said he was having flashbacks to the movie "Lincoln," which focuses on the 16th president's efforts to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and abolish slavery. 

"For the love of God, I feel like I'm sitting in 1865, where similar debates were created on why slavery should continue in this country," Delgado said, adding, "This is the time. This is the place. This is the moment... We are one people."

Sen. Toi Hutchinson, an Olympia Fields Democrat and candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat left open by the resignation of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, quoted Martin Luther King Jr: "The moral arc of the universe is long but it always bends toward justice."

Hutchinson said the senators had the chance to bend that arc a "little bit further."

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, told a story about how he could not first accept that a cousin was gay, but then he realized over time that he was "no different" from the person he had long loved.

"The sky is not falling, Chicken Little," Raoul said.