According to a release from Equality Illinois, almost 4000 couples have taken advantage of the new Civil Union law that went into effect in Illinois on June 1st. I know that I was one of those couples when I married, er I mean Civil Unionized, with my partner this summer.
Equality Illinois went to every Clerk of Court in every county in and found that 3,729 Civil Union licenses were issued in 90 out of 102 Illinois counties.
Equality Illinois stated: "That so many couples secured licenses in the first six months after they became available on June 1 demonstrated the importance that families placed on the protections it provided," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. "The fact that the figure grew to 3,729 civil unions licenses in the half year indicates a strong, ongoing desire for same-sex families to not only secure the legal recognition of government and the affirmation of their relationship from employers, family and friends but also the equal rights that civil unions guarantee."
In addition to the 3,729 couples who applied for civil union licenses from June 1 to November 30, thousands of other couples' relationships were recognized as civil unions in the state. Same-sex couples who entered a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership in another jurisdiction automatically had their relationships recognized as a civil union in Illinois on June 1.
"As we can see from these numbers and the range of locales, same-sex couples make their homes in all parts of Illinois," said Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois. "This recognition will have significant implications as state and local public officials deal with family law issues and members of Congress consider the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act."
Even with the successful implementation of civil unions in the state, Equality Illinois and its allies in the executive and legislative branches had to defend the new law against attempts by opponents to attack it and dilute protections for families.
"There was intense pressure in the General Assembly in Springfield and the courts to weaken it, and, with our allies, we fought back each time," Hannig said. "We expect opponents to continue to try to weaken family protections during 2012 even as more same-sex couples are joined together in civil unions, and we will remain vigilant."
Remember, that just a few weeks ago I shared a story with you that Illinois now allows civil union couples to file joint tax returns! Have you taken advantage of the new Civil Union law?