Illinois reps. voting for marriage equality Nov. 5 may have cast tough votes, but perhaps none was tougher than Naomi Jakobsson's.
Jakobsson, a co-sponsor of the bill, left the bedside of her dying son to vote for the bill, a crucial vote on a bill that squeaked by with just one vote to spare.
Jakobsson's 46-year-old son Garret was in hospice.
The Urbana rep. left his bedside for the Capitol Tuesday to cast her vote, returning to find her son had passed ten minutes before she returned, said her friend Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie announced the death and led her colleagues in a moment of silence Nov. 6.
Jakobsson's office issued a statement saying her son would have wanted her to make the trip to cast the vote.
"Equal protection under the law is important to everyone in my family, including Garret," said Jakobsson. "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."
State Rep. Greg Harris, chief sponsor of the bill, stated: "Naomi Jakobsson is an amazing woman. Kind, caring and courageous. She was among the first to sign on as a sponsor to marriage equality, and has been a champion for this and many other issues of justice and fairness in Central Illinois, and across our state."
Jakobsson's vote was essential. The bill passed with just 61 votes, one more than was needed. A test vote on an amendment to the bill immediately before turned up just 59 votes, signaling a close vote was at hand.
Feigenholtz described Jakobsson's family as diverse and committed to social justice. The Chicago Tribune reported that Garret was among eight children.
Feigenholtz said she had no doubts that Jakobsson knew she made the right decision.
"For those of us who know and love Naomi, Naomi is a very simple, heartfelt human being, and I think she demonstrated the quality of what this meant," said Feigenholtz. "I think she and her husband reflected on what [Garret] would have wanted."