Photo via ACLU Illinois twitter
Yesterday, Governor Quinn signed Illinois’ civil union bill into law. The bill allows same-sex couples to participate in civil unions. Straight couples can as well if they decide not to get married. The civil union bill affords many of the protections of marriage in the state of IL, but they are not recognized by the federal government.
The law, which goes into effect on June 1, will provide same sex couples many legal protections now given to married couples, such as emergency medical decision-making powers, inheritance rights, pension benefits, adoption and parental rights, and the ability to share a room in a nursing home.
This makes Illinois the 6th state in the US to allow civil unions for same-sex couples. While they don’t get the attention that gay marriage laws attract, I actually think civil unions are hugely important. Many folks have argued that all state sanctioned ceremonies should be civil unions (gay and straight alike) and that marriage should be left with the religious institutions.
In terms of rights for queer couples, this new law means a lot for the community in Illinois.