What does Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn have in common with every single U.S. state governor who has signed marriage equality legislation?
Gov. Quinn, an enthusiastic supporter of marriage equality, promised attendees at Equality Illinois‘s Justice For All Gala this past weekend that “This week will be a historic week in Illinois. … This year we’re going to pass and make a law called Marriage Equality in Illinois.”
Last week, after the Senate Executive Committee voted 9 – 5 to send the marriage bill to the Senate floor for a vote, Gov. Quinn tweeted that “#MarriageEquality is coming to Illinois, and yesterday was a great start in the Senate Exec. Committee. It’s time for full equality.”
The Illinois Senate has scheduled their vote on the marriage equality bill for this Thursday, Valentine’s Day.
Governors in six of the nine states where same-sex couples can legally wed — Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland and Washington – have had the opportunity to sign a marriage equality bill into law. Only one among them, Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont, a member of United Church of Christ, vetoed the bill. (The Vermont legislature swiftly overrode his veto.)
The other five governors, all Roman Catholics, signed the marriage equality bills passed by their legislatures.
Maine — On May 6, 2009, Gov. John Baldacci, a Roman Catholic, became the first U.S. state governor to sign a marriage equality bill. Although the law was nullified that fall by voter referendum, Maine voters had a change of heart and passed a marriage equality law via referendum in 2012.
New Hampshire — June 3, 2009 Gov. John Lynch, a Roman Catholic, signed An Act Relative to Civil Marriage and Civil Unions into law.
Washington — On Feb. 13, 2012, Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Roman Catholic, signed the bill Concerning Civil Marriage and Domestic Partnerships into law.
Incidentally, it isn’t just in the United States where government officials who are Roman Catholic have signed marriage equality legislation. Heads of state in four of the eleven countries that have legalized civil marriage for same-sex couples are Roman Catholic.
Belgium — On February 13, 2003, King Albert II, a Roman Catholic, signed and promulgated the marriage equality bill.
Spain — On July 1, 2005 King Juan Carlos, a Roman Catholic, gave his Royal Assent to the same-sex marriage law.
Portugal — On July 8, 2010 President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a Roman Catholic, ratified the marriage equality bill.
Argentina — On July 21, 2010, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a Roman Catholic, enacted the marriage equality law.
You don’t have to be Roman Catholic to sign marriage equality legislation into law, but apparently it helps.