Same-Sex Unions to be Legal in Illinois: What Does it mean to the LGBT community?

Same-Sex Unions to be Legal in Illinois: What Does it  mean to the LGBT community?

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Governor Quinn is expected to sign the House Bill 2234 today that will acknowledge same-sex civil unions in the State of Illinois.  The ongoing debate of whether gays should be allowed to be married continues, but for now the LGBT residents of Illinois wil have extended rights under the new law.

On November 30, 2010, the House passed the bill by a 61-52 margin.  The Senate approved the bill on December 1 by a 32-24 margin, sending the bill on to Governor Pat Quinn.  The new bill will take effect on June 1, 2011.  The same-sex marriage bill, the Equal Marriage Act, SB 2468 that would have amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to declare that " a marriage is between 2 persons" (rather than, "a man and a woman"), died in a committee in 2009.

The Illinois civil union law won't grant full marriage rights or recognition by federal authorities. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples who enter into civil unions will be able to: make medical decisions for each other, file a lawsuit for a partner's death, receive pension benefits if a partner dies, dissolve the relationship in court and be considered legal parents of their children.

Same-sex civil unions will provide many of the same benefits of marriage, but not all of them.  The major difference is that the federal government doesn't recoginize same-sex marriages or civil unions, so any federal programs treat gay partners as if they are completely unrelated.

The following are examples of how the same-sex unions versus heterosexual marriages rights stack up under the new law:

 

Ability to visit partner in the hospital and make medical decisions

 

Both heterosexual marriage and civil unions can do this.

 

Joint filing of federal taxes

 

Heterosexual marriage-Yes

Civil Unions- No

 

Joint Filing of Illinois Income Tax

 

Heterosexual marriage-Yes

Civil Unions- No, yet Illinois's flat tax removes any advantage from joint filing.

 

Right to sue over partner's death

 

Heterosexual marriage- Yes

Civil Unions-Yes

 

Receive Social Security payments upon partner's death

Heterosexual marriage- Yes

Civil Unions- No

 

Immigration rights for foreign partner

 

Heterosexual marriage-Yes

Civil Unions- No

 

Employer provides health insurance to worker's partner

 

Heterosexual marriage-Yes

Civil Unions- Unclear

 

Right to live together in nursing homes

 

Yes, for both groups.

 

Right to officially dissolve relationship in court

 

Yes, for both groups.

 

Pension Benefits for surviving partner

 

Yes, to both groups.

 

Benefits for partner of military veteran

 

State- Yes, for both groups.

Federal- Only heterosexual married couples can collect

 

Both partners automatically considered legal parents of children in a relationship

 

Yes, for both groups.

 

The passing of the same-sex union bill is a major victory for LGBT couples.  It is a first step in gaining equal rights and the support of our State of Illinois to acknowledge legally the union of partnerships for the gay community.  Though, some are disappointed that the bill didn't attach the term marriage to the bill, the current bill still provides a dramatic change in legal rights for LGBT's and a major shift for the support of alternative life styles in our society.

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