Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-22
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Civil unions: Halfway through the first year
News feature posted Dec. 9, 2011, special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Zen Vuong
2011-12-14

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


On Oct. 21, Martha Fourt and Patricia Benjamin joined the 129 Rogers Park residents who have tied the knot in the six months since Illinois sanctioned civil unions. ( Note: The author's original assignment involved a look into couples in Rogers Park, which is why this area is spotlighted in this report. )

"I had very mixed feelings about the whole concept of civil unions because I think it's second-class status compared to marriage," said Fourt, 56, who has been living with her partner for 11 years. "But once it became the law in Illinois, it seemed crazy not to take advantage of it."

About 30 relatives and friends watched the pair exchange vows and silver wedding bands under a chuppah and stomp on glass at Or Chadash, a synagogue in neighboring Edgewater.

More than 1,800 Cook County couples have been issued licenses. In theory civil unions offer all the legal benefits, protections and responsibilities of marriage. Only six states recognize them: California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

Approximately half of the 129 Rogers Park residents who are now in a civil union rushed to the county clerk's office soon after it became law June 1. It was then 9.3 percent in July, 15.5 percent in August, 10.1 percent in September, 7 percent in October and 7.8 percent in November.

Fourt and Benjamin deliberated with their attorney before getting hitched. Although the couple already had wills as well as powers of attorney for health care and finances, Fourt said, "there were certain advantages, especially around end-of-life issues such as inheritance, that would be a lot more protected."

Civil unions grant partners the right to sue for wrongful death and the right to inherit everything in the absence of a will. They offer automatic hospital visitation rights and medical decision-making authority.

Married people automatically can file their income-tax returns jointly. Despite civil unions granting the same state benefits, the Department of Revenue only recently issued guidelines allowing same-sex partners to file 2012 state income tax returns together.

The "newly unioned" are cautious when they travel. They make sure to carry all their paperwork and their civil-union contractd after the county clerk returns it.

"From now on, when we travel, I want to take a copy of the certificate with us, just in the hopes that they'll recognize it even though their laws say they don't have to," Fourt said in reference to the 29 states that do not acknowledge any kind of marriage equality rights. Seven states allow same-sex matrimony as opposed to civil unions; others allow varying levels of protection for domestic partnerships.

Benjamin and Fourt want these safeguards in case one of them is injured, becomes ill or dies while on a trip.

Since the June influx, people living in Rogers Park applied for, on average, 13 civil unions per month. Three straight couples in Rogers Park and 135 in Cook County opted for this alternative rather than marriage.

Because life partnerships are not federally recognized, parents who decide to get one could escape reclassification when their children apply for financial aid. They may also retain separation benefits from a previous marriage but still formalize their new love.

When obtaining health care for their significant other, "unioned" people receive workplace state tax exemptions. The federal government, on the other hand, provides no spousal employment benefits, meaning it taxes income used for a partner's health care.

Lack of national acceptance can make civil unions unappealing. Brian Brabson, 33, has dated his boyfriend for five years and is ready for marriage, not a civil union. "It almost feels like a cheapened version of marriage," Brabson said. "I'd personally just kinda want to wait for the real thing."

The Rev. Deborah Paton, 52, said she understood why some people might feel dissatisfied with sanctioned partnerships. "Marriage goes beyond civil rights," she said. "It's God's recognition and blessing, God's calling of us to be in a relationship. When people make those, they sense the commitment goes further."

Although not granted federally recognized wedlock, Benjamin, 64, said she has experienced a "huge, huge change." Her relationship now has "more consequence." She has had relationships that lasted eight and 13 years, but "when they ended, they just ended," she said. "We had an agreement, and we just walked away. But now there's this legal thing where you need to get a divorce."

"We're not young people just falling in love and getting married," Benjamin said. Looking back on her one month of being "unionized," she said, "We were more cautious. We could see the implications."

Paton said civil unions make a deep bond sound like a "business partnership." A Presbyterian pastor for 25 years, she said she hopes marriage will one day be acceptable for anyone who wants it. Her denomination accepts same-sex ministers: Some of its clergy are battling to change marriage from a covenant between "one man and one woman" to between "two people."

Other Christian faiths are more conservative. St. Paul's Church by-the-Lake, an Episcopal Church, declined to comment on the six-month anniversary of civil unions.

The Cook County clerk only tracks the number of licenses issued. Some people request one but never have a ceremony or return the signed certificate to the county clerk, so it becomes void in 60 days.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Relationships & the Law Today: Immigration rights in era of marriage equality 2015-07-22
UIC's Hughes named a University Scholar 2015-07-22
Upcoming: Lesbians Who Tech event July 23 2015-07-22
ASK LAMBDA LEGAL Marriage equality FAQs 2015-07-22
Lesbian director on movie debuting at Black Alphabet festival 2015-07-22
Airbnb plays key role in local lesbian couple's wedding 2015-07-21
Upcoming: Book Fair; Cannabis conference; marriage law seminar 2015-07-21
MUSIC Dave Koz on marriage equality, Stevie Nicks and his new CD 2015-07-21
Ill. Supreme Court Justice discusses marriage "moment" 2015-07-21
European court rules same-aex partnership a right 2015-07-21
Couple in Clinton video get married 2015-07-21
Affinity celebrates 20 years, director announces departure 2015-07-19
Wheaton College official resigns over same-sex marriage stance 2015-07-17
EEOC: Lesbians and gays are protected from job bias under Title VII 2015-07-16
Affinity to celebrate 20 years on July 18 2015-07-15
VIEWS The welcome challenges of marriage equality 2015-07-15
Entertainment: Marriage film; 'Million-Dollar Listing'; Ryan Reynolds 2015-07-14
World: London's 'chemsex' scene; pope's meeting; French pol weds 2015-07-14
Lisa Sherman: Leading the Ad Council into the future 2015-07-14
Amigas Latinas bids farewell 2015-07-12
Angela Koenig: Chicago lesbian novelist on her works, influences 2015-07-10
HRC releases new map showing states with unclear non-discrimination protections 2015-07-10
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden at Freedom to Marry celebration 2015-07-10
57 Democrats to Federal Officials: Ensure licenses for same-sex couples 2015-07-09
Victory in Lambda Legal's Puerto Rico Marriage Case 2015-07-09
Catholic school under fire for terminating married lesbian teacher 2015-07-09
DoJ: Federal marriage benefits available to same-sex couples nationwide 2015-07-09
LGBT catholics call for access to marriage and ordination 2015-07-08
Upcoming: Affinity to celebrate 20 years on July 18 2015-07-08
Kansas Governor Brownback issues anti-LGBT executive order 2015-07-08
Episcopalians vote for marriage equality 2015-07-08
Leaders reflect on activism as Amigas Latinas folds 2015-07-08
Cardona, Noriega honored at event 2015-07-08
Local Mensa LGBT group leader on her role and career 2015-07-07
Women's World Cup win shines into LGBT community 2015-07-07
World news: Ambassador talks marriage; flag flap; lesbian swimmer attacked 2015-07-07
Katz named to State Bar Assn Sexual Orientation, Gender ID Committee 2015-07-01
Episcopalians OK same-sex marriage 2015-07-01
Dining news: Marriage-victory items; Fourth of July 2015-07-01
Entertainment: Celebs react to marriage news; Jeremy Renner; Spider-Man 2015-07-01
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.