The new law was supported by several legislators who cited Pope Francis' message of mercy and non-judgement for homosexual persons who are trying to live in chastity as having swayed their position.
On Nov. 6, the Chicago Tribune quoted Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, who had been undecided on the bill, as saying, "as a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people."
Chicago's daily also quoted House Speaker Michael Madigan, who alluded to Pope Francis' comments, saying that "for those that just happen to be gay – living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal – who am I to judge that they should be illegal?"
Bishop David Malloy of Rockford stated after the bill's passage that "astonishingly, some of those who voted for this human redefinition did so by invoking Pope Francis or their Catholic faith."
"We must not allow ourselves to be deceived. This decision, however well intended, has no basis in nature and certainly not in the teaching or the practice of our Catholic faith."
In another statement, he added that the vote's outcome "ignores the unique nature of this institution that is based in the complementarity of men and women and is intimately linked to the procreation and raising of children who have a right to a mother and a father. This legislation undermines this fundamental basis of human interaction and its contribution to a stable society."
"We pray that those who stood prepared to support this legislation will also be prepared to answer for its consequences on our society."
The legislation has been questioned for its lack of religious liberty protections. While it neither requires churches to marry gay couples nor forces them to let gay couples use their facilities, concerns have been raised over issues of health insurance, and a lack of protections for business owners who conscientiously object to providing services for same-sex couples.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois stated that is "deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage. We remain concerned about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill."