Illinois House of Representatives Passes Civil Unions Bill

by HRC Staff

Bill Moves to State Senate; Would Provide Same-sex Couples Rights Provided to Married Couples Under State Law


Washington– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, today praised Illinois’ House of Representatives for passing a civil unions bill by a 61-52 vote. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

“HRC congratulates Illinois’ House of Representatives for recognizing that all couples and all families deserve basic rights and protections,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Civil Unions are not marriage, but they provide important benefits and are step in the right direction.”

The bill passed by the House would permit both 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. If the legislation passes the Senate and is enacted into law, couples who enter into a civil union will not receive any rights or benefits under federal law. Illinois does not permit same-sex couples to marry.

In addition to Illinois, eleven 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, but do not provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples in state. Five other states – California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington – provide same-sex couples with access to all the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Colorado, Hawaii and Maine provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. California recognized marriage for same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. View an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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