Illinois Next in Line For Gay Marriage – Civil Unions

The City of Chicago
is celebrating today!

Less than 24 hours after it was passed by the Illinois House of Representatives, the state Senate voted to approve a measure that would allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in Illinois.

Governor Pat Quinn has already pledged to sign SB1716, the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” which was co-sponsored by openly gay Rep. Greg Harris.

The measure passed in the Senate by a 32-24-1 vote Wednesday, and the passed the Illinois House by a 61-52 majority vote on Tuesday.

“This is a legacy vote,” Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said on the Senate floor. “It makes a statement about the justice for which we stand.” The Chicago Tribune reports that Steans was referencing the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, urging colleagues to bend “the moral arc of justice.”

Civil unions would provide legal recognition of gay couples and give them some of the same benefits automatically available to married couples, including the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital, disposition of a deceased loved one’s remains and the right to make decisions about a loved one’s medical care.

The Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act will also protect the rights of religious institutions to define marriage as they choose, and will be available to any couple, same-sex or opposite-sex, in a committed relationship who are: 18 years of age or older, not in an existing marriage or civil union, and are not related. It would take effect July 2011.

On the flip side of this happy coin, a couple of anti-gay candidates are running for the  Mayor’s job, which will be determined in February.  The city has been “pro-gay” for years under Daley, but the tide may change….

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