Civil unions and same-sex marriages (SSM)
- Prior to 2011: Loving, committed same-sex couples were recognized only as "legal strangers" -- as roommates. They and their children lacked all of the protections, benefits, and security that married opposite-sex couples and their children have always enjoyed.
- 2009-FEB-17: Senate bill SB1716, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, was launched. It would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions and receive a few of the rights given to married couples. It would also recognize as civil unions the relationships of same-sex couples who were either legally married, or had entered into civil unions or domestic partnerships in other states or countries.
- 2010-NOV-30, the bill passed the House. One day later, it was approved by the Senate. It was signed into law on 2011-JAN-31, and came into effect on 2011-JUN-01.
Both supporters, and opponents of SSM realized that civil unions were only a temporary stop gap measure. Separate and equal arrangements are always separate but never equal. In the case of Illinois civil unions they were very inferior to marriages, because they were missing many of the privileges and protections of marriage. Everyone recognized that civil unions were just the first step and that the eventual goal of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) community was, and remains, full marriage.
- 2012-FEB-08, a bill was filed in the Assembly, titled the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. It would allow same-sex couples to marry and enjoy "the same [state] benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law" that married opposite-sex couples already obtain, including the right to call their relationship a marriage. However, even if the law passed and same-sex couples married, they and their children still would receive none of the approximately 1,140 federal benefits of marriage because of the federal Defense of Marriage act (DOMA). That act has been declared unconstitutional by a number of courts, and has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where it will be heard in late 2013-MAY and a ruling will probably be issued during 2013-JUN. Many commentators suggest that DOMA is obviously on its last legs.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois, said that the state's civil union law "has already proven to have substantial weaknesses." He welcomed the proposed marriage bill as the logical next step toward LGBT equality in Illinois. He said:
"Over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love - are also equal in marriage."
- 2012-MAY-30, two lawsuits were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. One was by Lambda Legal on behalf of 16 same-sex couples. The other was by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 9 different same-sex couples. They are seeking to overturn the state law that restricts marriage to the union of one woman and one man, and to replace civil unions law with access to full marriage for same-sex couples.
- 2012-DEC/2013-JAN: A time of major changes: The Catholic Church is now basing its opposition to SSM on their interpretation of natural law. President Obama calls for legislators to legalize SSM. An open letter from a group of CEOs and companies in Illinois support SSM. A bill to legalize SSM was passed by Senate committee in early 2013-JAN, but it later stalled. A pro-life group asked the Roman Catholic Church to excommunicate any legislator voting in favor of the bill. In a shocking development, the state chairperson of the Republican Party announced his support for SSM because of its furthering of conservative values! A group of conservative Christian and Muslim leaders circulated a letter in opposition to SSM. A group of liberal Christian and Jewish leaders circulated a letter in support of SSM.
A SSM bill was re-introduced into the House and Senate on the first day of the 2013 session. Legislators have reached a consensus that there is sufficient support to pass the bill. As a result, some Republicans were supporting a quick vote in order to put the SSM matter behind them.
- The Senate passed the SSM bill.
Governor Quinn (D), has committed to signing the SSM bill into law if it is passed by the Legislature. If it becomes law it would be the 14th jurisdiction (including the District of Columbia and 13 states) that will have achieved marriage equality. It would also be the first Midwestern state to approve same-sex marriage through legislative action. SSM is also available in Iowa, but that was done by action of the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009.
- 2013-FEB-14: On Valentine's day, the full Senate passed the SSM bill.
As of mid-MAY, there is no clear indication whether a majority of Representatives in the House would vote in favor of the bill. The session ends at the end of MAY.
Topics covered in this section:
- Attempts to recognize same-sex relationships via the Legislature:
- Through Civil Unions:
- Adoption by same-sex couples:
- Through same-sex marriage:
- Attempts to achieve SSM through the Courts:
Copyright © 2012 and 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson