[fusion_text]The Illinois General Assembly approved civil unions in December, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law on January 31, 2011. The bill is referred to as the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act. It allows same-sex and opposite sex couples to enter into civil unions, giving them some of the same benefits that are available to couples that are married.

What State Benefits Would A Couple Be Entitled To In A Civil Union?

Some of those benefits are: the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital, the right to dispose of a deceased loved one’s remains, the right to make decisions about a loved one’s medical care, tax relief, workmen’s compensation relief, inheritance rights and benefits, spousal testimonial privilege in court, and access to domestic laws and procedures.

Illinois Parentage Act And The Illinois Marriage And Dissolution Of Marriage Act

Since this Act became law in 2011, it has affected a number of existing laws in the State of Illinois. Of particular importance to persons in a civil union, the Illinois Parentage Act and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act have both undergone extensive revisions with inclusion for persons in civil unions. All of the current rules governing annulment, divorce, and property division that apply to couples in marriages would also equally apply to couples in civil unions.

How Does A Couple Enter Into A Civil Union In Illinois?

Same-sex couples can enter into a civil union by obtaining a license from the city clerk, exchanging vows before a secular or religious official, and registering their unions.

How Would This Act Affect The Children Of Same-Sex Couples?

The Act will extend current protections that are afforded to the children of opposite-sex married couples to children of same-sex couples. One major problem that gay and lesbian parents faced was their employer’s refusal to provide healthcare coverage to their partner’s children. Now that the Act has become law, same-sex couples can assume full legal parenting rights over their partner’s children. The Act does not amend the Adoption Act, which governs both private and public adoption agencies.

Would Religious Denominations Have To Perform And Recognize Civil Unions?

The Act ensures that religious denominations are not forced to recognize or perform civil unions, if they choose not to.

How Would Civil Unions In Illinois Affect Or Be Affected By The Laws Of Other States And The Federal Government?

The Act would allow Illinois to recognize civil unions that are or have been performed in other states. It would not impact federal marriage laws or grant federal marriage benefits.

Status Of Other States Regarding Civil Unions And Domestic Partnerships As Of April 5, 2013

  • Six states have adopted civil unions that are available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
  • Three states have adopted broad domestic partnerships that grant nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples. These domestic partnerships are available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
  • Three states and D.C. provide limited domestic partnerships that provide some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

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