Illinois legalizes same-sex civil unions

ast month, lawmakers approved SB1716, the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.” The bill allows both gay and straight couples to enter into civil unions, giving them some of the same benefits automatically available to married couples, including the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital, disposition of a deceased loved one’s remains and the right to make decisions about a loved one’s medical care.

It’s a start, I guess.

hmmm…does anyone remember that madtv skit with the townhall meeting where they decide the best way to raise revenue is to attract gay people by painting the post office pink?

Baby steps.

The key words from the article being “SOME” and “AUTOMATICALLY”

We still have to fight for separate but unequal.

There was a time not long ago, not long at all, when I would have felt this was sufficient and fair.

Now, anything less than allowing full equal marriage rights is unacceptable in my eyes.

What turned a grumpy old relatively conservative white guy around so dramatically? It wasn’t the speeches or the parades, etc. I simply became good friends with a guy that my wife knew when she was growing up, who happens to be gay - as in, openly, Cher obsessed, gay, the kind that we laugh and post on his facebook postings “Jamie, could you BE any more gay?” and he laughs and posts jabs back at us - and I watched his life with his spouse. I realized as he posted and emails us his spats with his spouse, his anger and tears and love and laughter as they go through the adventure of life together that they are sharing the exact same kind of relationship that my wife and I have, with the daily ups and downs and everything else. And as I’ve gotten to know Jamie well and as we’ve become good friends, it just occurred to me: who in the hell am I or anyone else to deny these two people the same rights and benefits and everything else that goes with a marriage?

Perhaps it is a failing in some part of me that I needed to have a good friend to personalize this issue and understand why the actual marriage part, not jiust the legal rights, is truly important. But I’m glad I did get to have this friend to help me see it.


Agree one billion percent.

Perhaps it is a failing. On the other hand the mere fact that you’re capable of changing your mind on an issue that so many feel strongly about puts you heads above most people.

The word they use to define it doesnt make much of a difference to me. As long as the two are 100% identical in all legal rights and privileges would it really matter if the word marriage was left to religion, and anyone who wanted the rights from government would get a civil union? Basically instead of a marriage license from the government people would get a civil union license. If you wanted the whole marriage thing on top of it you would just go to a church and get everything done there.

It wouldn’t matter to me… as long as hetero couples got the same document.

Taking the power of marriage away from the church and leaving them with just the rituals would be fine by me.

Jeff, that was a moving story about your friend, and I completely agree with your summary.

Yes, it matters. I am an atheist, I was married by a justice of the peace at a banquet room at a Holiday Inn. I am considered “married”. If I get to call myself married, then gay people get too as well. If churches don’t like it, then they are free change the name of the sacrament.

I change my vote to this answer.

I’m very uncomfortable with that answer, as it smacks of government tyranny over religion.

The right answer is for the government to get out of the marriage game entirely and only issue civil unions to both hetero and gay couples. Toss in a little legislation preventing any discrimination of civil unions benefits based on whether the couple is hetero or gay and the problem is solved. Yeah it would be great if society and all the religions could just magically become enlightened and recognize gay marriages but it’s just not going to happen in the short term. Trying to force it is a bad move.

How? Nobody’s forcing churches to do anything in my example. If The First Church Of Holy Bigotry wants to only marry heterosexual couples, they can. But a gay couple should also be able to get married, and call it marriage, legally. If the church has a problem with that, then they can change the name of what they do.

The right answer is for the government to get out of the marriage game entirely and only issue civil unions to both hetero and gay couples.

Not the right answer, for a couple of reasons. By not calling it marriage, the bigots and wingnuts still have the moral victory and can go on pretending it’s not the same thing. Language is important, names and words mean something. “Civil union” does not have the same connotation as “marriage”.

You can use this simple test to see how ridiculous renaming marriage is. Would you agree if the government called every married inter-racial couple a “civil union” instead of “married”, or does that sound offensive?

I’m totally with madkevin on this. It doesn’t smack of government tyranny over religion, it smacks of a triumph of common sense over religious bigotry.

Marriage is not solely a religious institution, though. Many religions have incorporated marriage into their rites and ceremonies, but marriage actually has a much longer history as a civil institution. I have no problem if churches want to dabble in marriage, and even make up their own rules for the marriages that they oversee. But they don’t get to have a monopoly on the institution, or force their rules on everyone else.

I would marry madkevin for that answer, but I can’t thanks to the law. And already being married. But I’m so using that going forward.

I understand the power of words, etc, but I still kind of feel that ideally, everybody should just be civil union-ed by the government, and married by the church, and those things should be entirely separate.

But I do think that the word “marriage” is a bit too entrenched in popular consciousness, legal documents, etc, so changing the general case to “citizen’s government acknowledgement of rights” for everybody is probably harder than just letting everybody get married.

As long as EVERY union was called a civil union in the government’s eyes, I’d be fine with that. You can still call yourself married all you want. Whatever. There are people right now who aren’t married (officially) but call themselves married. The key is the rights that you gain through the union, which should be the same for everyone. Yes, words have power, but we can make the legal power the same for everyone by calling them all civil unions (or come up with some new word, like ‘civilly knotted’.

The connotation can change over time. If it doesn’t, that’s fine. If everyone has the same legal rights and can call the union whatever he/she wants, then that’s sufficient, IMO.

Worrying about whether conservatives will win a “moral victory” if we rename all marriages to civil unions is just playing their game. Words matter only if you give them power. If we can just change a few words, achieve real equality under the law and move on then I’m all for it.