By a single-vote margin, the Illinois House Tuesday backed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act. Three of those votes came from Oak Park-area state reps: LaShawn Ford, Camille Lilly and Chris Welch. All three are African-American and faced considerable opposition on gay marriage from conservative black religious leaders on the South Side.

The gay marriage bill is now on its way back to the Senate for final approval after it received a majority vote in the House.

The bill passed by 61 votes after a two-and-a-half hour debate. Pending Senate approval and the guaranteed signature of Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois would be the nation’s 15th state to legalize same-sex marriages.

The House majority vote in favor of the gay marriage bill comes on the heels of the marriage equality rally and march that occurred in Springfield in late October where dozens of representatives across the state and Gov. Pat Quinn stood in support of legalizing same-sex unions.

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