Good news: Civil unions — including for same-sex couples — could be performed in Illinois as early as next summer, having cleared both the state's House and Senate as of yesterday despite fierce Catholic lobbying against it.
Illinois is the sixth state to approve civil unions. Of course, it's not equal access to marriage, but it's a start. (A poll in September found that "57 percent of Illinois voters favored civil unions, though only 41 percent supported gay marriage.")
The law would provide "adequate procedures for the certification and registration of a civil union and provide persons entering into a civil union with the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses."
State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, spoke movingly about the bill during the proceedings:
"On fundamental civil rights, the transfer of property, survivor benefits, how individuals express their final wishes with their last gasps of life. Those are the questions that are really before us. Those are the equal protections under the law that history demands we embrace. ... It's time for us to look history in the eye and not flinch," he said.
One Republican crossed the aisle in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, a day after the bill cleared the house, and the Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, is expected to sign the bill into law.