Archive for the ‘Civil Union/Domestic Partnership’ Category

Is the Civil Unions Law Threatened?

December 21, 2010

In an e-mail to supporters today, Equality Illinois Executive Director Bernard Cherkasov reported that the state’s new civil unions law has been threatened by opponents: “… angry opponents of equality, such as the Illinois Family Institute, have already announced that they will target the new law for repeal or dilution.”

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Gov. Quinn to Sign Civil Unions Bill in January

December 4, 2010

Gov. Pat Quinn signs a bill into law

Some of us are ready for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign the civil unions bill into law and make it official, but it’s still a few weeks away. The governor, who recently won re-election in a competitive race, has announced that he will sign the bill in a special ceremony early next year.

Equality Illinois to Host Civil Union Forums

December 4, 2010

Equality Illinois, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy organization, will be hosting two community forums this month to answer everyone’s questions about the civil unions bill that just passed and what it will mean for the LGBT community in Illinois. The events will be Dec. 9 in Belleville and Dec. 16 in Chicago. Detailed time and location information as it becomes available. Call (773) 477-7173 for more information.

A Larger View of What Just Happened

December 4, 2010

Passing a civil unions law this week hardly makes Illinois a trailblazer, considering that Vermont began offering civil unions for same-sex couples back in 2000. At the same time, Illinois is now entering a (sadly) short list of states recognizing same-sex couples.

A few points about the significance of this law’s passage:

  • Illinois will be one of only three states in the Midwest to offer any form of recognition of same-sex relationships (along with Iowa and Wisconsin).
  • Illinois will be one of only 12 jurisdictions nationwide offering a legal relationship recognition status for same-sex couples including all of the state-level rights of marriage.
  • Unlike the same-sex recognition laws in many states, the Illinois General Assembly was not ordered by a court ruling to pass this law.
  • With about 12.9 million people, Illinois will be among the highest population states recognizing same-sex couples. Illinois is the nation’s fifth most populous state. Two larger population states – Texas and Florda – offer no recognition for same-sex couples. California, the nation’s most populous state, which allowed same-sex marriage for only a few months in 2008, continues to offers a domestic partnership status with the full rights of marriage. New York does not offer domestic partnerships, civil unions, or marriage to same-sex couples, but does honor same-sex marriages performed in other states.
  • When this law goes into effect, more than a quarter of the U.S. population (28%) will live in a jurisdiction recognizing same-sex marriage or its equivalent. Read more.

Here is the nationwide recap (and check out a handy map here):

Full Marriage Equality

  • Massachusetts (2003)
  • Connecticut (2008)
  • Iowa (2009)
  • Vermont (2009)
  • New Hampshire (2010)
  • District of Columbia (2010)

Civil Unions/Domestic Parnterships Offering All the Rights of Marriage (the category that Illinois will be in next year):

  • California (2005 – domestic partnerships)
  • New Jersey (2007 – civil unions)
  • Oregon (2008 – domestic partnerships)
  • Washington (2008 – domestic partnerships)
  • Nevada (2009 – domestic partnerships)

Partnership Laws Offering Some of the Rights of Marraige:

  • Hawaii (1997 – reciprocal beneficiaries)
  • Maine (2004 – domestic partnerships)
  • Maryland (2008 – domestic partnerships)
  • Colorado (2009 – designated beneficiaries)
  • Wisconsin (2009 – domestic partnerships)

Marriages Recognized But Not Performed:

  • Rhode Island (2004 – opinion by Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch)
  • New York (2009 – ordered by Gov. David Patterson)
  • Maryland (2010 – opinion from Attorney General Doug Gansler)

What Rights Will Civil Unions Offer?

December 2, 2010

A Chicago Tribune story did a great job of summing up what this bill does and does not do for same-sex couples.

A few things it will do:

  • Protects couples from having to testify against one another in court
  • Offers surviving partner the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit
  • Guarantees surviving partner the right to automatically inherit deceased partner’s estate in the absence of a will
  • Provides surviving partner the right to survivor pension benefits
  • Allows partners to visit one another in the hospital
  • Authorizes partners to make medical decisions for one another
  • Gives couples with children joint custody
  • Requires companies providing spousal medical insurance to cover same-sex partners
  • Mandates nursing homes to permit couples to share a room

Things it won’t do:

  • Does not offer a partnership recognized by all states. Rights granted by Illinois could be lost if a couple moves or even travels in other states.
  • Does not provide any federal rights, benefits, or protections. For instance, a couple in an Illinois civil union cannot file federal taxes jointly or receive survivor Social Security benefits.

Let me know if there are any other critical points to add to either of these lists.

Daley Pushes for Marriage Equality

December 2, 2010

Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley praised the Illinois General Assembly for passing the civil unions bill, but said that it falls short of the full equality. The long-time mayor urged state leaders to give same-sex couples the freedom to marry next.

Another Fiery Senate Speech

December 2, 2010

Sen. Rickey R. Hendon, D-Chicago, speaks about his faith and his support for the civil unions bill Wednesday:

Civil Unions Fall Short of Ideal

December 1, 2010

As much as we appreciate the passage of the civil unions law here in Illinois, it does still have a second-class status compared to marriage.

This comical video expresses the problem well:

So How Do My Partner and I Get Unioned?

December 1, 2010

The process will work just the same way that it does with marriage. Rick Garcia, a spokesman of Equality Illinois, explained it to a reporter:

Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois said it’s simply a matter of the state printing up some new forms by June 1, when the legislation takes effect.

“People will go to the county clerk. They will pay a certain fee, and they will get the license or certificate of civil union, and then it will be recognized by a clerk or a judge or a clergy person of their choice,” Garcia said.

How Did Your Senator Vote?

December 1, 2010

Senate civil unions roll call linked here: Senate Roll Call.

The vote was 32 to 24.