The Illinois House of Representatives passed a civil unions bill by a vote of 61-52 on Tuesday afternoon, with swift passage expected in the more liberal Illinois State Senate by the end of the day and SB 1617 ending up on Governor Pat Quinn's desk shortly thereafter.
Chicago Pride covered the story thusly:
Openly gay Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored SB 1716, started his opening statement at 5:17 p.m on Tuesday. "Once in every generation," he said, "legislatures across the country have a chance to advance the cause of liberty and justice for all."Congratulations to Illinois! I think it is quite amusing that heterosexual supremacists are now left making the counterfactual claim that "civil unions are identical to marriage" and are thus opposing measures that many in the LGBT community reject as "separate but unequal."
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716) which passed to cheers in the chamber with a 61-52 majority vote, received support from the Democratic leadership in Springfield, including Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who was present.
Conservative groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Washington D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), lobbied hard against the bill.
The bill does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance.
California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington have passed laws allowing same sex civil unions. Same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Iowa.