An article about the state's recently passed (as soon as Gov. Pat Quinn signs it) civil unions bill in the Illinois Times looks at the trajectory of the legislation. It's not quite marriage; so what is next on the marriage equality agenda?
Republicans argued that passage of the bill, which grants most of the rights and privileges of marriage to domestic partners (including same-sex couples), opens the door to full gay marriage. Equality Illinois' Rick Garcia, who helped push the legislation through, thinks that's an accurate analysis:
"We've been very upfront from day one that we view the civil union bill as a stopgap measure."
Is it the word "marriage" itself that bothers opponents of same-sex marriage? Civil unions are virtually the same as marriages and allow partners to collect state death benefits, make medical decisions for their partners and immunity from testifying against their spouses in criminal court.
Jason Pierceson, a University of Illinois Springfield professor and co-author of "Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas," said states offer an average of 300 benefits to married couples. For more detailed information about how a civil union might benefit you and your partner, contact an Illinois family law attorney.
Rick Garcia said Equality Illinois will continue to lobby lawmakers for full equality but insisted the next real battles for equality will take place at the federal level. Jason Pierceson, who said married couples are entitled to roughly 1,000 federal benefits, agrees:
"Congress could repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would be helpful for national recognition of same-sex marriage and other arrangements, but what really has to happen is state constitutional bans have got to be eliminated in some way."
That could be very difficult for states where an overwhelming majority of voters supported with gay marriage bans.
Are you and partner planning a civil union? Make sure you meet with an Illinois family lawyer first in order to fully understand the institution.
- Gay Marriage Legislation (FindLaw's LawBrain)
- Browse Chicago Family Law Attorneys (FindLaw)
- Domestic Partnership or Civil Union: "Everything but Marriage" Considered by States like Washington (FindLaw's Common Law Blog)