CHICAGO - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed into law a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, making the home state of President Barack Obama the 16th to allow such unions.
The Illinois law, which takes effect June 1, is the latest in a series of recent victories for gay rights, coming after Hawaii's governor signed gay marriage into law last week and after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie dropped his legal opposition to the unions in October.
"This new law is an epic victory for equal rights in America," Quinn said before signing the bill in a ceremony attended by about 3,000 people that included Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and state leaders.
"Illinois is moving forward," Quinn said. "We are a model for our country. If the Land of Lincoln can achieve marriage equality, so can every other state in the nation."
Illinois state senators voted to legalize gay marriage in February, and the state House followed suit by a slim margin earlier in November.