The Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill that ensures fairness for state employees who retired prior to the state's passage of its civil union and marriage equality bills.
House Bill 6021, passed in the state Senate May 31 and in the state House April 13, allows state employees who retired prior to June, 2011, and are in the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, State Universities Retirement System or Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, to establish survivors' benefits for a same-sex spouse.
Prior to 2011, retirees designating a same-sex spouse for their benefits would have to take a refund of their survivor credits. Under the new law, these retirees would be able to pay back the refund and re-establish survivor benefits for their spouse.
Chief sponsors of the legislation in their respective houses were state Rep. Sam Yingling and state Sen. Daniel Biss.
"Prior to the enactment of civil unions and marriage equality in Illinois, members of these public pension systems who were in same-sex relationships were not able to designate their partner for survivor benefits because the state did not legally recognize them as couples," said Mike Ziri, director of public policy for Equality Illinois, in a statement.
The bill now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.