Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is Illinois Set to Make Same Sex Marriages Legal?

Our illustrious state assembly was back at work this week and upon their return after the general election, they got right down to business. No, not the business they need to get to, i.e. pension reform.

Instead they started legislation on:
  1. drivers’ licenses for undocumented citizens (SB 957),
  2. legalized marijuana for medical use (HB 30),
  3. expanding gambling (SB 1849),
  4. required posting of tax returns for private corporations (SB 282), AND
  5. legalized same sex marriage (HB 5170),
Quite a busy session - of course on nothing that addresses our collapsing state financial standing. (but I digress).

On the same sex marriage: here is what the current legislation would do. It is called the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act" and provides that all Illinois laws applicable to marriage would apply equally to marriages for spouses of the same-sex. It would entitle all married couples to receiving the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law. How it would deal with federal law is a touchy area as the state has limited abilities in that regard. But to the extent laws in Illinois adopt, refer to, or rely upon provisions of federal law, same sex couples and their children would be treated equally under the law of this State as if federal law recognized the marriages of same-sex couples. Isn't that clear?

The law would also change the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act by making various changes concerning parties who may marry. It also changes the existing Civil Union Act to allow the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage under specified circumstances.

Bottom line and cutting through the legal jargon: same sex marriage would be allowed and carry the same rights and obligations as different sex marriages. The bill basically stalled in March of 2012 but now appears to be gaining in strength and with the recent election putting more Democrats in office, this one may get through. More work for us divorce lawyers I guess.