HRC Blog

Civil Unions Take Effect in Illinois

Relationship mapToday is the first day Illinois’ new civil unions law takes effect, allowing same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Illinois law that are granted to spouses. Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act into law in late January; the Chicago Sun-Times reports that officials expect to issue about 2,000 licenses today.

Tomorrow, Gov. Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be on hand for a celebration in Millennium  Park, where at least 30 couples will enter into civil unions.

In addition to Illinois, twelve states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing an expansive form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. provide marriage to same-sex couples under state law.  New York and Maryland recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages, and five other states – California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington – provide same-sex couples with access to almost all of the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii and Delaware have passed legislation for civil unions to begin taking effect next year. Illinois couples who enter into a civil union will not receive any rights or benefits under federal law. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit our state laws section here.

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