Illinois Civil Unions: Governor Quinn Signs Historic Bill Into Law
by: Tammy Webber, Huffington Post
Jun 2, 2011
Illinois Gov Pat Quinn holds up the signed civil unions bill during ceremonies Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 in Chicago. Applauding behind Quinn are the legislative sponsors, state Sen. David Koehler, left, and state Rep. Greg Harris. Illinois becomes the sixth state in the country to enact the initiative into law. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago, IL - Gov. Pat Quinn, saying it was a "day of history," signed legislation Monday legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, making Illinois one of about a dozen states that extend significant legal protections to same-sex couples.
About 1,000 people crowded into the Chicago Cultural Center to watch Quinn, a Democrat, sign the measure that supporters call a matter of basic fairness and opponents decry as a threat to the sanctity of traditional marriage.
"We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions," Quinn said before signing the bill to a roar of cheers and applause.
The law, which takes effect June 1, gives gay and lesbian couples official recognition from the state and many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage, including the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner's property.
Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright, as do some countries, including Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands.
Illinois law will continue to limit marriage to one man and one woman, and civil unions still are not recognized by the federal government.
Chicago residents Amanda Barlow, 43, and Mimi Reynolds, 47, said they will hold a civil union ceremony this summer. The couple, who have 4- and 5-year-old boys and have been together 14 years, had considered traveling to other states that allowed same-sex civil unions or marriage, "but I kept telling her 'No, it's going to happen here in Illinois,'" Barlow said.
"For us to witness and see it happen and to realize that we're both living our dreams . . . it just solidifies who we are as a family," Barlow said after the bill-signing. "So I'm speechless because I feel like I'm living in a dream come true."
Original Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/illinois-civil-unions-gov_n_816685.html