civil union spousal benefits | Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
One of the most difficult obstacles for civil union spouses to overcome in being awarded certain rights in Illinois is the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The federal government affords certain rights and benefits under that definition to married couples, which are not afforded to same-sex civil union couples. According to WJBC, Illinois lawmakers are trying to work around this obstacle on the state level.
The Illinois civil union law states that civil union spouses are entitled to the same rights and benefits as those that are married, and so if the civil union law is to remain, certain measures should be taken. Illinois legislators are currently considering expanding certain medical benefits given to married couples to include same-sex civil union couples, more specifically, the benefit of medical leave. The proposed Family Medical Leave Act (HB 4724) would give employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to a child or sick partner. Though the proposed medical leave would only cover businesses with at least 50 employees, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction to combat the restrictions civil union couples face due to federal laws.
The Illinois civil union law was implemented in June 2011 and, since then, there have been a lot of changes and controversies. One of these controversies is the right for civil union spouses to claim spousal benefits. According to the Windy City Times, the Springfield Mayor is backing spousal benefits for city employees who are in a civil union, despite the fact that the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee voted against awarding those benefits in December.
The Springfield committee, which includes retirees and city staffers, voted to maintain the already established eligibility standards for insurance; the current standards do not include civil union spouses. The vote, or the result of the vote rather, is claimed by the committee members as being legal because Springfield is self-insured and not subject to the same regulations as commercially-insured employers. Supposedly, a bill for extending the spousal insurance benefits of married couples would increase the cost of insurance by $725,000. Although the Mayor said that the vote was indeed legal, he has altered his position and is now urging the committee to reassess theirs when the next quarter comes around.
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