Update 2: The IL Senate passed the CU bill by a vote of 32-24-1. The bill now heads to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature.  Reactions below the fold.

Update: Equality Illinois is doing some live coverage of the debates on their Facebook page.

On the heels of passage of the civil unions bill (“Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act”, SB1716) in the Illinois House yesterday, the Senate has begun its own debate.  A vote is expected this afternoon.

Passage is expected to be slightly easier in the Senate, where the civil unions measure needs 30 votes to pass. The Senate currently has 37 Democrats, and at least one Republican is on board.

Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, said sees the issue “through the eyes of a father who has a gay child,” a daughter who “doesn’t have the same rights” as his other children. [snip]

Republican Sen. Dan Rutherford, who was elected state treasurer last month, said he’ll vote for civil unions.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Rutherford, who will be sworn in come January as a statewide elected official. [snip]

Under the proposal, same-sex couples would enjoy several rights married couples currently have, such as making end-of-life decisions, handling probate matters, sharing nursing home rooms or even visiting partners in hospitals that deny visits by anyone but family.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it into law when it hits his desk.From Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry Calls for End to Denial of Marriage Itself

Press Contact:

Jackie Yodashkin

Communications Manager, Freedom to Marry

e: jackie@freedomtomarry.org

t: 646-430-3925

[New York, NY, December 1, 2010] Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, on today’s passage of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protections and Civil Unions Act:

“Today, Illinois took an important step forward in providing a measure of protections to same-sex couples and their families – protections of particular importance in these tough economic times.  With this step in the right direction, Illinois rejected arguments against fair treatment for gay people and their loved ones and acknowledged that gay couples and families exist and have the same hopes and needs as other families.

“While a welcome step, civil union is no substitute for the full measure of respect, clarity, security, responsibilities, and protection of marriage itself.  States that have created civil union as a means of both giving and withholding – providing legal protections while withholding the freedom to marry and all its meaning – have found that civil union falls far short of marriage with all its tangible and intangible significance in our lives.  Many of those states – Connecticut, New Hampshire, and even Vermont, which first created civil union – have since pushed past civil union to marriage, recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness of a separate and unequal status.

“In five states and the District of Columbia, as well as 10 countries, same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and the sky has not fallen.  Having now laid a good foundation with civil union, Illinois should move swiftly to finish the job, ending exclusion from marriage for committed couples seeking the same responsibilities, same respect, and same rules.”



Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage — and the responsibilities, protections, and commitment that marriage brings. Freedom to Marry is working to win marriage in more states, grow majority support for the freedom to marry, and end federal marriage discrimination.

From HRC:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2010

Paul Guequierre | paul.guequierre@hrc.org | Phone: 202-423-2860

Illinois Senate Passes Civil Unions Bill



Bill Moves to Governor Quinn for Signature

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, today congratulated the Illinois Senate on passing a civil unions bill by a 32-24 vote and urges Governor Quinn to quickly sign the bill into law.

“HRC applauds the Illinois Senate for recognizing that our families need the security of legal recognition now by swiftly passing a civil unions bill,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Thank you to all of the Senators and Representatives who took a stand for justice, and to the tireless advocacy of Equality Illinois and other organizations who made such a victory possible.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Greg Harris and passed by both the House and Senate, would permit both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Illinois law that are granted to spouses. The bill, however, does not provide for same-sex marriages.

In addition to Illinois, ten states plus Washington, D.C. offer state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. provide committee LGBT couples the freedom to marry. New York and Maryland recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Five other states-California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington provide samesex couples with civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Colorado, Hawaii and Maine provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. California recognized marriage for same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

From Lambda Legal:

=====================================================

LAMBDA LEGAL NEWS RELEASE, December 1, 2010

Contact Erik Roldan: 312-545-8140;  eroldan@lambdalegal.org

=====================================================

Illinois General Assembly Passes Civil Union Bill: Lambda Legal Celebrates

Increased Protection for Same-Sex Couples and Their Families

“Same-sex couples in Illinois…will finally have the legal protections to take care of each other and their children.”

(Chicago, IL, December 1, 2010) – The Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, establishing legal protections for same-sex couples across the state.

“Same-sex couples in Illinois, many together for decades, will finally have the legal protections to take care of each other and their children,” said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. “Same-sex couples and their families faced a range of barriers to things that other couples take for granted, including spousal health

benefits and hospital visitation – the goal of this law is to correct those problems. While all couples deserve the right to marry, all of us in the Land of Lincoln can be proud of this important step forward.”

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, first introduced by Representative Greg Harris in March 2007, and in the Illinois Senate by Senator David Koehler, passed 61-52 in the House on Tuesday and

32-24 in the Senate today. The new law includes provisions for hospital visitation and healthcare decision making.

Lambda Legal’s staff provided extensive legal analysis and drafting assistance for the Act approved today, as well as public education and

legislative advocacy pressing for its passage.

“We congratulate and thank the bill’s sponsor Representative Greg Harris, along with Representatives Feigenholtz, Osterman, Currie, Fritchey, Howard and Mell, in the house and bill sponsor Senator David Koehler, along with

Senators Steans, Cullerton and retired Senator Carol Ronen in the Senate for their extraordinary leadership in making today’s historic victory a

reality.  It’s a great day for Illinois and other leaders in the in the legislature who have taken this step today,” added Bennett.

The landmark vote reflects public opinion in Illinois that same-sex couples need recognition under the law. An October 2010 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of likely Illinois voters shows 67.5% approve of civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples.

“I’ve been with my partner for 13 years,” said Chicago Resident Angelica Lopez. “The possibility of a Civil Union gives my partner and my child a

security that wasn’t there before.”

From National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Illinois General Assembly passes civil unions bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 – The Illinois Senate today passed a civil unions bill, which cleared the House yesterday. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Same-sex couples in Illinois today moved closer toward realizing equal treatment under the law. While not a substitute for full legal marriage, this measure provides important protections, rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples, and will help ensure they’re able to take care of each other and their families. This is both fair and humane. We thank Equality Illinois and the many fair-minded people who advocated and fought for this bill. The lawmakers who voted for this legislation did the right thing, and we now look forward to the governor signing it into law.”

One Iowa:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2010

CONTACT: Justin Uebelhor | One Iowa | justin@oneiowa.org | 515-288-4019 x 205

ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE PASSES CIVIL UNIONS BILL

Jenison: “Another step forward for gay and lesbian couples in the heartland.”

DES MOINES, IA – One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison released the following statement after the Illinois legislature passed a civil unions bill granting additional protections to committed gay and lesbian couples in Illinois.

“This is another step forward for gay and lesbian couples in the heartland. While all couples ultimately deserve the freedom to marry, the Illinois law will help same-sex couples fulfill their commitments to take care of each other and their families. Congratulations to Equality Illinois and those in the state who worked so hard to secure this victory.”

One Iowa is the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, committed to full equality for LGBT individuals, including the freedom to marry.