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This legislative session, there has been a heated discussion regarding same-sex marriage rights in Illinois. According to reports, a bill that would allow same-sex matrimony was proposed recently by Illinois Representatives Greg Harris, Deborah Mell and Kelly Cassidy. The bill is supported by gay and lesbian activists across the country.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act mandates that all laws related to marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children. Same-sex and different-sex couples must have the same benefits, rights and responsibilities under law. The bill additionally proposes that parties in a same-sex marriage and their children have the same legal protections under Illinois law as though federal law recognized same-sex matrimony.

In addition, the bill would allow the voluntary change of a civil union to a marriage. The Illinois legislature approved civil unions in 2011; however, advocates of the proposed bill feel that the current law falls short. The CEO of Equality Illinois made a statement: “In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law.”

Same-sex couples face unique challenges with nearly every legal issue they encounter. Basic legal matters can be more technical for gay and lesbian partners. The proposed bill is an attempt to equalize the negative marriage law disparities, which are experienced by same-sex couples.

Source: Southtown Star, “Same-sex marriage bill introduced in Illinois House,” Feb. 8, 2012