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New suit challenges constitutionality of civil unions in Illinois

Photo of Karen Lavin

Illinois is now joining a growing list of states discussing the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Currently, Illinois family laws allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships. However, these couples are not allowed to marry because of a law that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

In Illinois, domestic partnerships involve virtually the same rights as married couples. However, in many cases, same-sex partners do not have financial or medical decision-making powers for their spouse by default. Therefore, as this blog has mentioned in the past, it is important for same-sex domestic partners to plan for emergency situations by having certain legal documents in place.

On May 30, nearly two dozen couples joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal in filing a lawsuit against the Cook County Clerk's Office. In the lawsuit, the group claims that the law preventing gay couples from marrying is unconstitutional and that by denying them the right to marry, the Clerk's office has violated their rights.

One couple explains that they would like to see the law overturned because they believe civil unions are a downgrade from marriage. They want to have the exact same rights as married couples get and do not want feel the need to explain their relationship status.

The Illinois legislature has also been considering a bill which would overturn the ban on same-sex marriages in Illinois. However, it is unlikely to come to a vote before the end of this legislative session. As of yet, it is unclear if the Attorney General or Governor Quinn will fight the new lawsuit.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Illinois Gay Marriage Lawsuit: Couples Seek Marriage 'Upgrade' From Civil Unions," Lila Shapiro, May 31, 2012

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