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Quinn Signs Civil Union Law

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 1, 2011 3:05PM

Gov. Quinn signed the Civil Unions bill into law yesterday before a raucous and packed house at the Chicago Cultural Center, saying "We believe in civil rights, and we believe in civil unions. We believe in liberty and justice for all." The law, which goes into effect June 1, gives gay and lesbian couples (as well as straight, unmarried couples) many of the same rights as a married couple. These wide ranging rights include making health care decisions for partners; disposing of a loved one's remains; gaining accident and health insurance benefits tied to partners; and granting same-sex couples new standing in probate law and laws relating to estate succession, purchase and distribution of property.

State Rep. Greg Harris, lead sponsor of the law, told the Tribune, "This is making sure that at the time of life when people need government to support them, that it will be there and treat one set of neighbors equally as the next set of neighbors." While Illinois becomes the sixth state in the Union to recognize civil unions, both Harris and state Rep. Deb Mell said the law is just the start in what they hope will ultimately lead to allowing gay marriage in Illinois.