Illinois OKs civil unions for same-sex couples

Illinois became the first state in the Midwest with a civil-union law for same-sex couples as the result of a bill (SB 1716) passed during the legislature’s fall veto session.

Stateline Midwest, Volume 19, No. 11- December 2010

Illinois became the first state in the Midwest with a civil-union law for same-sex couples as the result of a bill (SB 1716) passed during the legislature’s fall veto session.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, New Jersey is the only other U.S. state with such a law, which provides the equivalent of state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples. Those rights, the Chicago Tribune reports, include making end-of-life decisions, handling probate matters, sharing nursing-home rooms, and having guaranteed access to visit an ailing partner in the hospital. (In some cases, hospitals limit patient access to families only.)

One year ago, Wisconsin lawmakers extended some statewide spousal rights to same-sex couples through a new domestic-partnership law.

Iowa is the only Midwestern state (and one of five in the nation) that issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In 2009, that state’s Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Iowa Constitution. In November, Iowa voters ousted all three Supreme Court justices who were up for retention election. Never before in the state’s 48-year-old history with retention elections had an Iowa Supreme Court justice lost his or seat on the bench, The Des Moines Register reports.