Illinois civil unions vote on fast track

Wed. November 10, 2010 6:27 PM by News Staff

Springfield, IL - A bill to allow same-sex civil unions in Illinois could come up as soon as Tuesday when lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall veto session.

During the gubernatorial campaign, Governor Pat Quinn said he favored civil unions. "We have legislation in Illinois very close to passage," said Quinn during an appearance at Market Days in August. "I believe we can pass that this year."

Quinn restated his support for the measure on Wednesday and now some lawmakers say the vote could happen soon.

"I think we're awfully darned close," openly gay Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Last year a house bill, co-sponsored by Harris, to allow civil unions in Illinois was successfully voted out of committee, but never came up for a full vote. Equality Illinois, which endorsed Quinn, has renewed the push and remains optimistic that the bill can get enough votes to succeed by the end of the year.

"We are in overdrive working to get the civil union bill passed before the end of the year," Equality Illinois public policy director Rick Garcia told "And, the governor is fully on board."

The legislation does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance.

"People realize there are a lot of folks in Illinois at the crisis times of their lives who don't have equal standing under the law and no protection under the law for themselves and their families," Harris said. "Most reasonable-thinking people think it's time we provide for that."

A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released in August shows Chicago residents are split evenly on same-sex marriage while a majority support civil unions.