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Will Illinois Become The 10th State To Legalize Gay Marriage?

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 Updated 5:49 p.m.

The Associated Press reports that the bill has cleared the Senate committee and will head to the full Senate for a vote. 

It is not clear when that vote will take place. 

Updated 4:51 p.m. with information on start of hearing. Will be updated. 

A Senate committee has started considering a landmark bill that could make Illinois the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Hundreds of people have submitted comments for and against the measure.

Among those who came to Springfield to testify Thursday in favor of the measure are Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe. The Chicago women have been together 21 years and have two children. Volpe says while the couple has a civil union, a hospital administrator once refused to let her into their son's room because she and Santos aren't married.

Volpe says they shouldn't have to show paperwork to prove they are a family.

Opponents have said same-sex marriage is against the "natural order."

Earlier version. Updated 2:37 p.m. with information on delay of vote

Illinois Senate Democrats are delaying a vote on a plan that would make the state the 10th in the nation to legalize gay marriage.

A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton tells The Associated Press the proposal to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples will get a committee hearing Thursday but there aren't currently enough votes to pass it on the floor.

Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says she doesn't know how many votes there are for the plan or when it might be called. Some Democrats were not in attendance Thursday. Phelon says no Republicans supported it.

Cullerton's Democrats have 35 seats in the Senate - five more votes than needed for passage.

The Legislature is in lame-duck session until Jan. 9, when the new session is sworn-in.

Original Story:

Today is gay marriage supporters' "Bow Tie" lobby day at the Illinois Statehouse. The effort to make Illinois the 10th state to allow same sex couples to get married has been building momentum. 

The measure needs to get through both chambers of the General Assembly by Wednesday, when the lame-duck session ends.

But there was a setback last night when a procedural vote failed by two votes.

The measure's sponsor, Heather Steans, a Democrat, was undeterred.  She says two supporters were absent and she'll try again this morning, with hopes of a debate in the full Senate later today.

"This is fluid," said Steans last night. "It depends on everybody actually being present.  We'll be doing our nose counting tomorrow, making sure everyone's present."

Foes of gay marriage say it's wrong to deal with a matter of such importance in a rush.