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|Gay rights advocates praise Illinois civil union law|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|January 31, 2011 13:49|
Illinois became the latest state to recognize legal same-sex unions today when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Illinois Religious Freedom and Protection and Civil Union Act, allowing civil unions for the first time in the state. The unions will begin June 1.
"Illinois is taking an historic step forward in embracing fairness and extending basic dignity to all couples in our state. We commend Gov. Quinn for signing this bill," said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU of Illinois.
Camilla Taylor, senior staff attorney at the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal, announced the launch of Civil Union Tracker, a resource for Illinois couples and families considering a legal union in the wake of the new law.
"We have had a surge of calls to our Legal Help Desk since November when the law passed the legislature," Taylor said. "By launching Civil Union Tracker with our partners at Equality Illinois, our goal is to provide a much needed service to same-sex and different-sex couples in civil unions, and to their children. Many will have questions about what the law means. We also know from experience in other states with civil unions that many families will encounter difficulties in getting respect for their status as legally recognized families after the law goes into effect. Our goal is to help these families navigate Illinois' new legal landscape with as few challenges as possible."
The program is launched with support of Equality Illinois.
"As we continue to fight for marriage equality, Civil Union Tracker is a way for Illinois residents to communicate their unique experiences," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
"Through these stories, we can provide a necessary service to the community while we celebrate the progress we are making. At the same time, we need to document the harms that result from excluding lesbian and gay couples from marriage and relegating them to a separate status."
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