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IL Senate passes Civil Unions Bill, bill moves to Gov. Quinn for signature
Based on News Releases, posted Dec. 1, 2010
2010-12-01

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WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign today congratulated the Illinois Senate on passing a civil unions bill by a 32-24 vote and urges Governor Quinn to quickly sign the bill into law.

"HRC applauds the Illinois Senate for recognizing that our families need the security of legal recognition now by swiftly passing a civil unions bill," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Thank you to all of the Senators and Representatives who took a stand for justice, and to the tireless advocacy of Equality Illinois and other organizations who made such a victory possible."

The bill, introduced by Rep. Greg Harris and passed by both the House and Senate, would permit both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Illinois law that are granted to spouses. The bill, however, does not provide for same-sex marriages.

In addition to Illinois, ten states plus Washington, D.C. offer state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. provide committee LGBT couples the freedom to marry. New York and Maryland recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Five other states—California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington —provide same-sex couples with civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Colorado, Hawaii and Maine provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. California recognized marriage for same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Statement from Equality Illinois, Bernard Cherkasov

Illinois State Senate passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act with a vote of 32 to 24!

The bill will now go to Governor Quinn, who has promised to sign it into law. Once signed into law, civil unions will be available to Illinoisans effective July 1, 2011.

On that date, thousands of same-sex couples in Illinois will have access to protections that were previously denied to them, such as emergency medical decision-making, hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and others. This is a historic moment for our State, and we would not have been able to get here without the extraordinary leadership of the bill's chief sponsors, State Representative Greg Harris and State Senator David Koehler. Many of our partner organizations and community leaders devoted endless energy to helping pass this bill. Clergy all around Illinois educated their congregations and even prayed for elected officials to understand the urgency of the protection that civil unions offers. And our supporters from every corner of the State participated by contacting lawmakers, canvassing, phonebanking, writing letters, and making contributions. This is your victory too.

Thank you for supporting Equality Illinois and our mission to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Statement by Lambda Legal:

"Same-sex couples in Illinois...will finally have the legal protections to take care of each other and their children."

( Chicago, IL, December 1, 2010 ) - The Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, establishing legal protections for same-sex couples across the state.

"Same-sex couples in Illinois, many together for decades, will finally have the legal protections to take care of each other and their children," said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. "Same-sex couples and their families faced a range of barriers to things that other couples take for granted, including spousal health benefits and hospital visitation - the goal of this law is to correct those problems. While all couples deserve the right to marry, all of us in the Land of Lincoln can be proud of this important step forward."

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, first introduced by Representative Greg Harris in March 2007, and in the Illinois Senate by Senator David Koehler, passed 61-52 in the House on Tuesday and 32-24 in the Senate today. The new law includes provisions for hospital visitation and healthcare decision making.

Lambda Legal's staff provided extensive legal analysis and drafting assistance for the Act approved today, as well as public education and legislative advocacy pressing for its passage.

"We congratulate and thank the bill's sponsor Representative Greg Harris, along with Representatives Feigenholtz, Osterman, Currie, Fritchey, Howard and Mell, in the house and bill sponsor Senator David Koehler, along with Senators Steans, Cullerton and retired Senator Carol Ronen in the Senate for their extraordinary leadership in making today's historic victory a reality. It's a great day for Illinois and other leaders in the in the legislature who have taken this step today," added Bennett.

The landmark vote reflects public opinion in Illinois that same-sex couples need recognition under the law. An October 2010 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of likely Illinois voters shows 67.5% approve of civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples.

"I've been with my partner for 13 years," said Chicago Resident Angelica Lopez. "The possibility of a Civil Union gives my partner and my child a security that wasn't there before."

Statement by Mayor Daley on the IL General Assembly passing the IL Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.

Mayor Richard M. Daley today applauded the Illinois General Assembly for passing the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.

The Civil Unions bill offers the same benefits, obligations and responsibilities of marriage ( under state law ) , while protecting the rights of religious institutions to define marriage as they choose. The major benefits include hospital visitation, healthcare decision making, disposition of a deceased loved one's remains and probate rights.

"This is a major step forward for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. I want to thank the members of the General Assembly for supporting this important bill that will benefit Chicagoans who are in committed relationships and allow them to receive all the benefits afforded under state law," said Mayor Daley. "I look forward to Governor Pat Quinn signing this bill into law."


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