Marriage Rights - Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
Whether this is your first marriage or simply your first marriage in Illinois, you may have questions about the state’s marriage license requirements. All fifty states handle marriage licenses differently, but all states now recognize a marriage that was legally contracted in any other state. In other words, if your Illinois marriage license is valid here, it’s valid in every U.S. state.
After more than a decade of hard-fought legal battles, advocates of same-sex marriage have finally realized their dream: on June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court made the landmark decision to recognize same-sex marriage as a fundamental, constitutional right. Now all states are required to issue marriage licenses to people of the same sex and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.
Nottage and Ward
In 2013, the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor declared section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA had prevented the federal government from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages for the purpose of federal laws or programs, even when the same-sex couples were legally married in their home state. Section 2 of DOMA, which declares that all states and territories have the right to deny recognition of same-sex marriages that originated in states where they are legally recognized, was not challenged in Windsor.
Both sides on the same-sex marriage issue may disagree with each other on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, but they seem to agree on one thing: the U.S. Supreme Court needs to settle the question.
With remarkable speed, state bans on same-sex marriage have been struck down by federal courts, and with the same remarkable speed many of those states have filed appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Officials in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia have appealed rulings against their states’ same-sex marriage bans. Just recently Indiana and Wisconsin filed appeals after a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled against their bans.
With the passage of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Act (IRFMA), it seemed that Missouri same-sex couples seeking to become legally married in Illinois would just have to make a short trip across the Mississippi River to do so. However, it appears that an old statute in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act (IMDA) may throw a monkey wrench into the plans of Missouri same-sex couples who may be contemplating getting married in Illinois.
According to Section 217 of the IMDA, “No marriage shall be contracted in this state by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another state or jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other state or jurisdiction and every marriage celebrated in this state in violation of this provision shall be null and void.”
Missouri voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. Essentially, the provisions of Section 217 mean that the state of Illinois would have to void any same-sex marriages of Missouri couples performed in Illinois because it is not recognized in that state.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that married gay couples will be eligible to enroll in family health coverage under The Affordable Care Act. Although mandatory compliance does not kick in until 2015, the government is encouraging insurers to begin voluntarily offering family plans to married same-sex couples under the Public Health Service Act this year.
This is important news for same-sex couples in Illinois who are now legally eligible to marry.
HHS deemed that it would be discriminatory for health insurers to offer family health coverage to opposite-sex couples, but not to same-sex couples. The government department has jurisdiction when it comes to preventing insurance discrimination practices in the market.
According to a report by Chicago Sun-Times.com, Illinois gay couples facing a life-threatening illness now can marry before June thanks to U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, who recently ordered a county clerk to start giving marriage licenses to couples that met the criteria.
In November, Illinois legalized gay marriage, becoming the 16th state in the U.S. to do so. However, couples could not attain licenses until June 1, 2014. Then a suit was brought against Cook County Clerk David Orr by two Chicago same-sex couples demanding the issuance of marriage licenses to those who may not make it through the coming year.
Illinois legislators in both the House and Senate have passed a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage. Governor Pat Quinnis expected to sign the bill sometime in the near future. It is highly likely the bill will officially become law by next summer.
The House passed the bill with a 61-54 vote after more than two hours of debate. The Senate took only an hour to send the bill on its way toward approval with its own passing vote.
According to a report by Chicago Tribune, a letter, composed by Geneva’s mayor and backed by Illinois Unites for Marriage, was recently endorsed by several other mayors in the Fox Valley area. These mayors were from St. Charles, Plano, Sleepy Hollow, North Aurora, Elburn, and Yorkville.
The Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Fairness Act, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois if passed, will soon be considered by the Illinois House of Representatives. The letter demands a passing vote.
Marriage equality advocates experienced a watershed moment back in June when the Supreme Court revoked the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, extending federal tax benefits to same-sex couples all across the nation. As joyous as the occasion was for supporters of gay rights, concerns immediately arose as to how exactly the ruling would be implemented and administered. There were also questions on how the ruling would impact same-sex couples living in states where gay marriage is not recognized. An answer has finally been provided.
According to a report by The New York Times, on August 29, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that all legally married same-sex couples, no matter where they live, will be required to file federal tax returns as married couples starting from the 2013 tax year. The new restriction is being welcomed with open arms by gay and civil rights groups.
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