Last June, Illinois made civil unions legal with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. Yesterday, a trio of Illinois legislators vowed to take the next step by filing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which is a full-fledged same-sex marriage statute. Same-sex marriages are currently banned by statute in Illinois.
In addition to affecting marital status, last year’s civil union act had a sweeping impact on a couple’s property rights, including for real estate and estate planning purposes. This proposed act would further equalize same-sex couples in Illinois, while also allowing religious institutions to select whether they would perform said marriages.
Among the initial benefits to same-sex couples are the ability to convert their civil union into a marriage and the filing of joint state tax returns — which were the cause of conflict when Illinois initially refused to allow civil union couples joint filing status due to inconsistency with federal law. Proponents of the bill believe this is still a difficult piece of legislation to pass.
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, told The Windy City Times, "People need to understand that this is not a slam dunk," he said. "We have work to do."
The bill was proposed by Reps. Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy. Harris has authored several same-sex bills in the House, including the civil union act.
This proposal comes a day after California’s ban on same-sex marriages, known as Proposition 8, was deemed unconstitutional.