Democratic Illinois State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson knew her vote was an important one for the state of Illinois to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. She made the tough decision to leave her dying son’s bedside to vote in favor of the bill she co-sponsored. Her vote helped the bill to pass, but tragically her son passed away shortly before she was able to return to the hospice.
The Huffington Post reports that the lawmaker had been sitting at Garret Jakobsson’s bedside as part of a weeklong vigil of sorts prior to his passing. Garret was 46 years old and had been sick with Pick’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, for some time, the Associated Press reports.
On Tuesday afternoon, Naomi Jakobsson rushed to the state capitol in Springfield to vote on the measure. With her support, the bill was approved with 61 votes in favor, just one more than the minimum it needed in order to pass. She then headed back on the 90-minute trip to the hospice, but her son died shortly before she returned.
“He passed away, from what I heard, 10 minutes prior to her arriving back at his nursing home,” state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rep. Jakobsson issued a short statement through her office.
“Equal protection under the law is important to everyone in my family, including Garret. This was a vote that was important to my whole family, one that I felt I could not miss, and I know my son was proud of my decision.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law later this month, making Illinois the 15th marriage equality state.