illinois civil union benefits | Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
Many of the legal and financial ramifications of traditional marriage are automatic upon marriage. Even without a will, if one spouse dies, the other spouse is granted certain rights in the estate. Once married, each spouse has ownership rights to marital property. The parties also get all applicable health and employment benefits, can file joint state and joint federal tax returns, and are afforded many other financial and legal rights without taking any overt actions. Gay couples are not so lucky, unfortunately, and the financial issues that same-sex partners must face are a constant reminder that marriage equality is still far away, though it gets closer every year.
Many of the obstacles in the way of marriage equality for same-sex couples have been demolished by states through civil union and domestic partnership laws and even legalization of gay marriage. These are important steps toward the final goal of bringing change to the federal government and its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) With the ongoing financial hassles and denial of rights plaguing gay couples, the movement for change on the federal level is growing stronger.
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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