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House OKs Civil Unions

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 1, 2010 2:00PM

2010_12_1_gay_pride_illinois.gif Good Morning, Illinois. You're one step closer to recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples after the House approved of the civil union bill by a 61-52 margin. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where, barring last-minute lobbying from opponents, it's also expected to pass.

Wow. A state with a predominantly conservative Congressional delegation that recognizes same-sex unions. Let that one sink in for a bit.

Anyway, the legislation doesn't change state law recognizing marriage as being between a man and a woman, despite what Cardinal George and the Catholic Conference are arguing in their last-minute pitch against the bill. The civil unions bill, however, will grant same-sex couples wide ranging rights in making health care decisions for partners; disposing of a loved one's remains; gain accident and health insurance benefits tied to partners; and grant same-sex couples new standing in probate law and laws relating to estate succession, purchase and distribution of property, among other things.

Chicago state Rep. Greg Harris, the lead sponsor of the bill, said of its passage, “We have a chance today to make Illinois a more fair state, a more just state and a state which treats all of its citizens equally under the law." Harris at times was visibly emotional during the debate on the bill on the House floor. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Rep. Ron Stephens of downstate Greenville, who veered dangerously close to Rick Santorum territory in voicing his opposition.

“If you look at the sociological history of societies that have failed, what are some of the commonalities? One of those is that open homosexuality becomes accepted in the higher society, whether it’s in Greek times, the Romans or others, and here we are at that precipice again.”

Why does it always go back to the Greeks? We'd argue that what helped make Alexander the Great so great was that he had good loving.

If the Senate passes the bill, Governor Quinn has already said he would sign it into law, making Illinois the sixth state in the union to recognize same-sex civil unions.