The Chicago Family Law Blog

Illinois Civil Union Law Now Effective for Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples are now lining up for civil union licenses as Illinois state law allowing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples becomes effective. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that county officials expect to issue about 2,000 civil union licenses on the first day the Illinois civil union law goes into effect.

With the new law, Illinois now joins five other states that allow same-sex couples to enjoy benefits usually given to married couples reports the Sun-Times. In fact, the new Illinois civil union law goes even further than the laws of some other states, as the Illinois law provides for the same benefits for same-sex partners in civil unions as those given to married couples.

According to the Sun-Times, these rights can include the right to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner, the right to inherit a partner's property, the right to receive spousal employment benefits, and the right to formally adopt children (as opposed to sharing guardianship).

Still, same-sex couples applying for a civil union license should be aware that a civil union does not equal marriage. The sate law only impacts state benefits, and other states and the federal government will not treat a civil union the same as a marriage. For example, couples in a civil union must complete separate federal tax returns though they may file a joint Illinois tax return.

The new Illinois civil unions law for same-sex couples is a triumph for gay and lesbian rights advocates. While a civil union does not equal marriage, the new law could further open the door for same-sex marriage in Illinois.

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