illinois civil unions law - Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
The passing of Illinois’ civil union law has not only been cause for celebration for same-sex couples, but for wedding businesses as well. According to an ABC7 news report, Illinois wedding businesses are seeing substantial gains as more same-sex couples celebrate their civil unions. The civil union law has provided the catalyst for economic growth in a recession, albeit for a very specific niche.
Since the Illinois civil union law took effect on June 1, almost 1,500 civil union licenses have been issued only in Cook County. According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, 831 of those were issued within the first month of passing the civil union law. The first civil unions were celebrated by state and city officials on June 2 in Millennium Park. As same-sex couples see others celebrating their civil unions, it seems to relieve any misgivings of entering into and celebrating their own, which then encourages others.
Soon after Illinois’ Civil Unions bill was signed into law, a same-sex couple decided to enter into a civil union. When trying to find a location for the ceremony, however, they were met with a frustrating reality, according to the Chicago Tribune. The male couple wanted to hold the ceremony at a quaint bed and breakfast in central Illinois, an area convenient for family in Indiana and Kentucky, as well as their home in Mattoon. They contacted two bed and breakfasts, the Beall Mansion in Alton and Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton, both of which told the couple that they would not host same-sex civil unions.
The Beall Mansion replied to the couple’s inquiry via email, saying that it “will just be doing traditional weddings.” The owner of Timber Creek also replied via email, saying “We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois. We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate.”
Senate Bill 2436, known as the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” has been approved and the new Illinois civil union law will go into effect in July 2011. The Huffington Post reports that the measure passed by a 32-24-1 Senate vote and by a 61-52 Illinois House majority vote.
The new law will permit heterosexual and homosexual couples in a committed relationship to enter into civil unions. The “Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act” will also allow religious institutions to define marriage as they wish. Two adults may enter into an Illinois civil union if they are in a committed relationship and are at least 18 years of age, are not in an existing marriage or civil union, and are not related. Those who enter into an Illinois civil union will be given many of the same legal obligations, protections, responsibilities, and benefits that are provided to married couples.
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