As couples across the state wait for news of a vote on same-sex marriage, some may have questions on the impact on civil unions and options for getting married.
Q: Would couples in civil unions be affected?
A: If they choose to be. Under the law, couples already in civil unions may receive a marriage license from their county clerk’s office. Otherwise, the civil union would remain in effect as before.
Q. What is the primary difference between a civil union and a same-sex marriage?
A. Legally, couples would have essentially the same rights under a marriage as under a civil union, such as medical visits, inheritance, and next-of-kin status. Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples are still not recognized as being entitled to federal benefits, such as filing their taxes jointly or collecting Social Security benefits.
Q: Would I need to pay another fee to be married if I am already in a civil union?
A: No. The bill specifies a marriage license be provided at no additional charge for couples already in civil unions.
Q: Could opposite-sex couples still enter into civil unions?
A: Yes. Civil unions would remain an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples under the law, even with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Q: Could a member of a civil union enter into a same-sex marriage with a different partner?
A: No. The bill would prohibit entering into a marriage if you are already in a civil union with a different partner.
Q: Would I need to dissolve my civil union in order to be married?
A: No. The bill reads, in part, that entering into a marriage while already party to a civil union would be prohibited “unless the parties to the marriage are the same as the parties to a civil union and are seeking to convert their civil union to a marriage.”
Q: If I am in a same-sex marriage in another state, will Illinois recognize it?
A: Yes. The bill states any civil union or marriage from another state, same-sex or opposite-sex, will be honored in Illinois.