If everything goes smoothly from here on out, Civil Unions will be legal in the state of Illinois come the beginning of the new year.
Today, SB1716 passed through the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 61 to 52.
The Civil Unions portion of the bill, co-sponsored by openly gay State Representative Greg Harris, was added to the bill in May, 2009 and it's been a tooth and nail fight since then to keep it alive. There were many false starts, but finally the correct number of votes was received and the time to vote was now!
You may remember that earlier this year I went on a roadtrip with Equality Illinois to have a conversation with our State Representatives and Senators to show our support for the Bill and I want to say that perhaps we helped it along. Check out the Photo Gallery from that day and watch the Video
Now that the bill has passed through the House it moves to the Senate where they have until Thursday, December 2nd to vote on the bill - it is likely to pass. Then its off to newly elected Governor Pat Quinn who has promised to sign it!
But we need to remember that this is a Civil Union - not marriage, the bill does not recognize same-sex marriages. But it gives us benefits that we've never had before, allowing us to make medical decisions for our partner as well as survivorship benefits. It's the first step of an uphill battle...but we're up for the battle!