Illinois civil unions bill passes crucial test; enactment likely
Late this afternoon, the Illinois House of Representatives passed SB 1716, a bill that would establish a system of civil unions offering the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. The bill passed by a 62-51 vote. It now heads to the Senate, where essentially the same bill was voted out of committee today and where passage is expected to be by a bigger margin than existed in the House.
Governor Pat Quinn went to the House floor to demonstrate his support for the bill.
One distinctive aspect of the Illinois civil unions bill is that it establishes a status open to both same-sex and different-sex couples. Only Nevada and DC have a relationship recognition law that applies equally to straight and gay couples. Four states in addition to Nevada and DC (which also allows same-sex marriage) have civil union systems in place: California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
The Illinois bill provides that "A party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law."