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|Illinois legislature approves civil unions|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|December 10, 2010 00:00|
Illinois will begin offering civil unions to gay and straight couples next summer, after the state legislature approved a bill last week.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will hold a ceremony in January to sign the bill into law, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Dec. 5. The law will then take effect in June.
“The passage this week of the civil unions legislation was historic. It’s a landmark law, it’s headed my way and I think it will be the law of the land of Lincoln in the coming year,” Quinn told the Associated Press.
The governor argued that civil unions will help the state attract businesses and conventions.
“When they’re picking a convention for their particular organization, I think they look for a state that is a welcoming, accepting, hospitable place and that’s what we are in Illinois. We have everybody in and nobody left out,” Quinn told AP.
Supporters of the civil unions law note that it will give same-sex couples rights like hospital visitation and inheritance that are governed by state law.
“It provides a lot of really crucial benefits in terms of protecting couples’ ability to take care of one another in times of need,” said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune. “That includes hundreds of different things that many people don’t think about every day.”
Illinois will join 11 states plus Washington, D.C., with laws providing “an expansive form of state-level recognition” for gay and lesbian couples, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay political group.
Out of those, gay couples may marry in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., although they receive none of the federal benefits of marriage.
Top photo: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will hold a ceremony in January to sign civil unions into law. (via Facebook)
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