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Illinois Senate passes bill to allow gay marriage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has voted to legalize gay marriage, advancing a proposal that would make the state the 10th in the nation allowing same-sex couples to wed.

In a 34-21 vote, lawmakers approved a measure to lift a state ban on same-sex marriage. The bill now moves to the House, where Democrats also hold a majority.

The Valentine's Day vote came amid concerns from Republicans that the bill would force religious organizations to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their fellowship halls, parish centers or even in their sanctuaries. Bishops in Illinois, led by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, also have said they oppose the idea as against the "natural order."

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has said he will sign the bill if the House approves it.

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