The Illinois legislature is likely to vote on a bill to legalize same sex marriage during the lame-duck session in January, according to the Associated Press.

Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris (D) and state Sen. Heather Steans (D) held a conference call on Thursday to announce they would seek to have the legislation approved when the General Assembly reconvenes in three weeks.

"It's very straightforward. We treat all couples with the same respect and dignity in the eyes of the law and we protect the rights of religious institutions to either consecrate or not consecrate marriages within their faith as they see fit," Harris said. "It's very important that government not involve itself in religion on either side of the issue."

Reps. Greg Harris, Deborah Mell, and Kelly Cassidy introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in February. The bill would grant same sex couples all the marriage rights now available to heterosexual couples.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn, both Democrats, have said they would support the legislation.

More than a dozen Republican state representatives have co-sponsored a proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution that would define marriage solely as the union of a man and woman.

Nine states allow same sex couples to marry, while five states have amended their constitution to prohibit same sex marriages.

[Marriage equality via Shutterstock]