In a previous issue I reported that Illinois had enacted a new Civil Union Act which became effective on June 1, 2011. While the Act granted important new rights for gay couples in Illinois, it did not go so far as to establish that they can be married in this state.
A bill has now been introduced into the Illinois house which would legalize gay marriage in Illinois. The bill provides that same sex married couples and their children would have access to the same benefits, protections and responsibilities that the state offers to married couples of opposite genders. It also amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act by removing language that says the marriage must be between a man and a woman. Instead the bill states marriage is between two persons.
As expected, there is strong opposition to the passage of this bill. The Naperville-based Americans for Truth has already come out against the bill and has stated, through its spokesperson, Peter LaBarbera, that he believes that it has very little chance of passage this year.
Whether the bill passes or not, it may not have an effect outside of Illinois, as the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which is under attack by the Obama administration, while it remains effective will continue to present obstacles to full equality for same sex married couples. Therefore, as under the Civil Union Act, same sex marriage couples must still make special provisions with respect to their income tax as well as their estate planning in order to achieve to the greatest extent possible, the benefits and advantages enjoyed by married couples of the opposite sex.