A mere month ago, Illinois became the 16th state to allow gay marriage. With 2014 upon us, same-sex couples in Illinois are now waiting with baited breath for June 1, when the bill becomes effective and couples can at long last say "I do."
Here are three legal tips for soon-to-be gay married couples in Illinois:
- You can file both state and federal taxes together. Last year, the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department clarified that same-sex married couples can file as "married" on their federal taxes no matter what state they live in. You can file your state taxes together, too. That means a slew of tax-related benefits will become available to couples, including gift tax deductions, unlimited transfer tax exemptions, retirement plan benefits, tenancy by the entirety, and inheritance rights.
- You can get either a civil union or a marriage in 2014. Starting on June 1, 2014, same-sex couples currently in civil unions can remain in those unions or switch to a marriage, and couples desiring to enter into civil unions may still do so. However, under current law, a civil union doesn't confer federal benefits and may provide fewer state benefits to the couple. Illinois law will allow those already in same-sex civil unions to convert to marriages, but will not require it.
- You may face discrimination from wedding planners and other businesses. If you're planning a wedding bash, you'll be dealing with a slew of nuptial-oriented businesses, including wedding planners, bakeries, caterers, tailors, venue owners, and photographers. While federal law does not specifically prohibit businesses from refusing to serve same-sex couples on the basis of their sexual orientation, Illinois added "sexual orientation" to the state's existing nondiscrimination statute which bans discrimination in a variety of contexts including public accommodations, thereby prohibiting private wedding businesses from discriminating against gay couples.
For more newlywed legal advice, consider consulting a Chicago family law attorney. Get your legal ducks in a row before embarking on one heck of a honeymoon.
- Illinois Gay Marriage Law: Good for the Economy? (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- Separate is Unequal: Illinois Gay Marriage Ban Challenged (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- What is Prohibited Marriage in Illinois? (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- Ill. Gov Signs Gay Marriage Bill Into Law (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)