Three Illinois legislators have introduced a bill that would grant same sex couples all the marriage rights now exclusively available to heterosexual couples, according to the Associated Press.

The bill, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, was proposed to the Illinois House by Reps. Greg Harris, Deborah Mell, and Kelly Cassidy.

"I am proud to be able to take this next important step towards full equality for our community with Reps. Harris and Mell," Cassidy told "It is past time for our relationships and our families to be fully recognized and protected under the law."

Last year, Illinois legalized civil unions for same sex couples, granting them some of the legal rights of married couples, such as for inheritance or hospital visits. But LGBT rights advocates said civil unions -- while being a positive step forward -- had substantial weaknesses.

“In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law,” Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said.

“A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state -- who are equal in love -- are also equal in marriage.”

On Wednesday, the Washington legislature passed legislation to legalize same sex marriage. The bill has the support of Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law, making Washington the seventh state to legalize same sex marriage.