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Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 28, 2008

* The setup

In addition to benefiting same-sex couples, the bill also would allow civil unions among opposite-sex couples who do not want to be married. Benefits would allow couples to participate in health-care decisions for their partner, in decisions regarding the remains of a deceased partner and would give them legal backing to settle estates, among other rights. […]

The bill states that two adults who enter a civil union and are at least 18 years old are entitled to all of the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits that are afforded to spouses. The state would certify the civil union, which also could be dissolved under existing laws, similar to divorce proceedings.

* Here’s the bill’s brief description

Creates the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. Contains provisions regarding the purpose of the Act, religious freedom, and construction of the Act. Provides that 2 adults who enter a civil union, if they are at least 18 years of age, are entitled to all of the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that are afforded to spouses. Prohibits a civil union between: an ancestor and descendant; 2 siblings; an uncle and a niece or nephew; an aunt and a niece or nephew; and first cousins. Prohibits a person from entering a civil union with a person who is in a marriage or civil union or a similar legal relationship created in another state. Provides that the Director of Public Health shall prescribe forms and documents for entering into a civil union. Provides for dissolution of a civil union under existing laws. Provides that a marriage between persons of the same sex, a civil union, or similar legal relationship, other than common law marriage, legally entered into in another state will be recognized in Illinois as a civil union. Provides for severability.

* And, now, the question: Do you support or oppose this bill? Explain your answers as completely as possible and try to be nice to each other.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:30 am:

    Support. Distinguishes from marriage and its religious component. Live and let live. But be careful what you wish for…

  2. - Rob_N - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    Gah. Just call it marriage if it’s supposed to have all the same elements.

    Churches that don’t want to marry couples now don’t have to — nothing would change that. (And yes, there are churches that refuse to perform marriage rites for some people.)

  3. - Levois - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    I don’t have a problem with it. If fairness is the problem then it’s addressed here. I may not care much for the “alternative” lifestyle but I don’t think it should be a problem that should be addressed by law. I honestly would rather civil unions than giving them marriage licenses. If they want to get married find a church!

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    Oppose. Where’s the religious freedom protection component?

    It sounds as though it rejects most tenets of religion by allowing same-sex couples rights that are afforded to heterosexuals.

    Plus, with the laissez-faire approach to marriage, the courts will be clogged with even more divorces than they have to deal with now.

    The biggest problem with our General Assembly is they waste their time introducing legislation like this when the state is broken. Fix the finances first, the move on to the social issues.

  5. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    What Wordlsinger said. The cirtical paart is making sure the language is tight enough such that the marriage and dissolution act, custody, child support, health rights act etc are all brought in or apply to these Unions. I particuarly like that the idea centers around the benefits confered by State law, and providing a State law that conferes the benefits seperate and appart from religion or participation in relgious ceremonies.

  6. - Chicago Law Student - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    I support it. It’s not a perfect solution, but I think it’s a good and fair solution that is within the powers of the government.

    To anon 10:49: the religious freedom comes because people with religious beliefs do not have to recognize or treat same-sex couples in any particular way. The government, however, has to treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples the same. It reminds me of something… of what was it… right, that the people of the United States shall have Equal Protection under the laws.

    A fair, sensible, if not perfect solution.

  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    ===Where’s the religious freedom protection component?==


  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 11:58 am:

    To add to Rich’s “huh” and respond to the — yet again anonymous post — the bill protects religious freedom because its absolutely neutral with respect to religion. Which is kind of what our Constitution calls for.

    I like it, and not just because it extends equal protection under the law to same sex couples.

    It also provides an option to a lot of adult children of divorce and people who have been divorced themselves who are in loving, long term relationships and are all but married, but haven’t gotten “married” because they have become disillusioned with marriage as an institution.

    The far right can rant all they want, but gay people didn’t create the 50%+ divorce rate in this country, and you can’t ignore the fact that “marriage” as an institution is largely already broken.

    This measure doesn’t fix marriage, but it does help repair our torn social fabric.

  9. - Leroy - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    Oppose. Continued discrimination against people who want to have more than two people in their relationship.

  10. - OUTOFPLACE - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 12:31 pm:

    Oppose. The state confers benefits on heterosexual marriages because of the benefit of such unions to society (continuation of the species; child rearing; etc.) Same sex unions do not provide those benefits to society. Marriage, between a man and woman and based on love is the natural basis of a heathly family and all society and therfore should be cherished and awarded by our laws. (Yes, I am married and still that naive!)

    The Religious Freedom language in the bill means nothing. The bill does not provide any religious freedom protections — any religion already has a right to refuse to provide same-sex marriages. Its called free exercise of religion and can be found in the Consitution; state law can neither abridge or bolster; the language is used here in an attempt to make the bill more politically acceptable.

  11. - ProFamily - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 12:59 pm:

    I support on the basis of fundamental fairness to all people.

    However this bill does not protect Religious Freedoms. There are no provisions to allow those Christian denominations (or other religions) that do wish to marry same-sex couples. It falls short in this regard.

  12. - Learning the Ropes - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:02 pm:


    So you’re defining society as “society excluding the gays,” because it greatly improves their society. Even under the examples you gave, a loving nurturing home for a positive child-rearing environment. The only one that can not be replicated is the actual reproduction of the species… but on that turn, I guess infertile/sterile couples shouldn’t have marriage rights either. Orphanages aren’t exactly empty at the moment either.

    Every time you think of another group as “them” you’re distancing yourself further from society.

  13. - What planet is he from again? - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:09 pm:

    In favor. Any two consenting adults who are willing to make a life-time commitment to each other should be awarded the benefits (and suffer the consequences!) of their choice.

    OutOfPlace: “…Marriage, between a man and woman and based on love is the natural basis of a heathly family and all society…” That’s a pretty sweeping generalization made with no supporting evidence. Who said marriages based on love result in “healthy” families? What about arranged marriages between a man and a woman? Isn’t it possible they can have “healthy” families? And who said that a family has to have a man and a woman to be “healthy?” And what about childless heterosexual marriages? What benefit to society do they provide? And above all, who defines what is “healthy?”

  14. - Dark Horse Politics - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:13 pm:


    No its not perfect, nothing ever is. But its a start. If I choose to love and enter a relationship whatever you want to call it with a person of the same sex, it in no way makes the marriage of parents, my partners parents or anyone elses marriage any less legitimate, it does not destroy their family. If two gay men are “married” or in a “civil union” your marriage will not all of a sudden be disolved, your children will nto vanish from the face of the earth or become gay because two men or two women are in a committed relationship. If your so worried about the status of someone elses marriage harming the integrity of yours, I would suggest your marriage is in trouble anyway, and not because of what two other people do. I agree, churches, or other religious organizations should not be held to recognizing this same sex unions, no matter what they are called, if the chruch or group wants to recognize it they can, if not, they dont have to. That is religious equality, thats what they founding fathers ment, the ability to practice your beleifs, not to have someone elses beliefs imposed upon you, nowhere in this bill are anyone beliefs being imposed upon.

  15. - Norman - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:23 pm:

    Oh good, the state’s going to decide what marriage is…just what we need. As for the social fabric…give me a break, this in no way repairs that, it’ll just increase the tear. Nice try though.

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:24 pm:

    ===Oh good, the state’s going to decide what marriage is…just what we need.===

    The state has already decided. This would be an amendment to that previous decision.

  17. - Bill S. Preston, Esq. - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:27 pm:

    Support, but only because this is about as far as it can politically get right now. There are two elements of marriage - the prescreening requirement stuff to make sure you’re not related or have STDs, etc - and the ceremonial part - which quite obviously does not have to be religious in nature. And that’s it. That’s legal marriage. Why two people of the same sex are prohibited from attaining that status and reaping its benefits is an honest to god mystery to me.

    Oh wait. It’s because people are prejudiced and hateful. That’s why. Excuse my brief mental lapse.

    Hopefully people will soon realize that prohibiting people of the same sex from marrying is no different than prohibiting people of different races from marrying. The Loving v. Virginia of the gay community cannot come soon enough.

  18. - Justice - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:33 pm:

    I support the bill. It doesn’t step on the “religious” aspects of marriage. It simply resolves a legal issue of partner rights. Seems reasonable and fair.

  19. - Princeville - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:35 pm:

    Support. And at least most are playin’ nice over here, the Peoria paper is 1/2 bash, 1/2 support and Koehler is taking a beating. Our state employee healthcare insurance gives rights to insurance for established couples of the same gender. One of the biggest gripes we heard during that push was the unmarried opposite gender couples whining they couldn’t enroll their mate because they are not married.

  20. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 1:49 pm:

    OUTOFPLACE technically society does not confer the benfit of marriage for the reasons you stated. Society imposes laws and rules of interaction on people as it develops in order to manage conflict. We come together in social groupings to provide protection for the weak from the strong. We then develop rules and laws toorder that soceity and its goal of protecting the weak from the strong. Marriage law was developed to protect women, who had no rights, from the strong, the males in the relationship who had all the rights. The first purpose of marriage was to deal with property and inheritance. The first marriage laws created for dowery rights so that the women could keep her dowery if the marriage ended. It was expanded to let her keep her dowery in the evn the husband died. It had nothing to do with child rearing or propagting the species. it was purley a method of dealing with how to handle property, and how to provide protection for those with no or weak positions from those with strong ones. As socety developed we added to this proprty protection by providing income support from the male for kids and the wife if the marriage ended. We expanded these property rights to recognise women as earners to allow men to recover these same benefits. issuses of inheritance rights were also a primary goal of marriage law. Who had the right to the property, especialy if a divorce was presnt or more then one wife.

    The goal of marriage covered by social law is to protect property rights, chiodlrend right to property of parents, spouse right to proeprty of other spouse etc.

    This law helps serve the actual purpose of the social law by confering property rights and protections on a broader base of the mebers of the social structure.

    Religious law, specificaly jusiac law, was concerned with the things you mention. But we get our social law from the english common law. And in England, the development of marriage law was to protect and assign property rights. By doing this you ended conflict and potetial fights, which could invovle families warring with each other, without conflict. The law assigns the way to determine property rights, and the courts oversee the disput, thus society avoids conflict and is benefited from this stabilization.

  21. - OUTOFPLACE - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 2:00 pm:

    What planet: You don’t see any evidence of a loving marriage being the basis of the family or society? Then I suspect our perspectives are so different ther is no point in us conversing. Our society’s existence is the evidence.

    Also, I am not sure we have many arranged marriages in Illinois, but if we do, I am against those as well.

    Also and finally, I did not refer to anyone as “them.” I do not think gays should be excluded from society. I was providing my view on a particular piece of legislation and the nickname out of place was meant to convey my knowledge that my view would be out of place in this comment area — I was not refering to anyone else.

  22. - OUTOFPLACE - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 2:16 pm:

    Ghost I don’t agree with your view on why the state confers benefits on marriage, but I respect your point of view. Your post, however, does make me want to point out one final thing:

    The state did not create marriage. Marriage, as a commitment between a man and a woman, pre-exists the state and this country and, in fact, Christianity. However, a lot like Jesus gave his approval of marriage at Cana (and made it a source of Grace), the state chooses to provide legal protections and benefits to the pre-existing institution of marriage. (No, I am not comparing Jesus to the state, just an example.) I think the state did this for reasons I stated previously but we can disagree on that point.

    OK. This is addictive. I quit posting today.

  23. - What planet is he from again? - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 2:50 pm:

    OutOfPlace: Of course I see a loving marriage as the basis of a solid family unit. The way I see it, a dysfunctional marriage usually leads to a dysfunctional family (although I’m willing to admit that there are exceptions.) But I disagree with your statement that a “marriage between a man and a woman” is necessary part of the basis of that healthy, loving family (whatever that may be.) I agree that it takes a man and a woman to produce a child (and obviously they don’t need to be married to do it), but I assert that it does not take a man and a woman together raise a healthy, well-adjusted child, and further, I assert that a child raised by a same-sex couple can be just as healthy and just as well-adjusted as any other child. My argument boils down to, if there is a way to eliminate or reduce a barrier to solid, loving, committed relationships without trampling the rights of the citizens, we as a society are foolish not to pursue it.

    You’re right though, this is addictive.

  24. - No More Marriage - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 4:16 pm:

    Support, but I think this debate needs to take a turn. In response to these comments:

    “If they want to get married find a church!”
    “Oppose. Continued discrimination against people who want to have more than two people in their relationship.”
    “Oh good, the state’s going to decide what marriage is…just what we need.”

    I think our government should first set up civil unions for all, and then get completely out of the business of marriage, leaving it to the church. There would be no more legal status for marriage — it would simply be a religious sacrament. All legal duties would be covered under civil unions for straight and same-sex couples alike. This would allow for equal rights under law, while at the same time allowing the church to protect its definition of “marriage,” and without having to have a monumental battle of religious semantics.

    The “religious protection” I believe is found in the fact that as long as the government legislates “marriage,” the church will not be able to control its definition. I think it’s inevitable that one day gay marriage will be legalized (if the government continues to legislate marriage), changing the definition of “marriage.” Will the church then invent a new word? Some churches already are now using “covenant marriage” to distinguish their practice as a religious sacrament as opposed to a simple legal status.

    As a gay man in a monogamous, committed partner relationship, I see this primarily as a battle for legal rights — not as a cultural battle. Why should I have to pay a “gay tax” (my health care is not tax-deductible under my partner as it would be if I were married, costing us over $1,000/yr.)? I accept the fact that many people do not agree with my lifestyle, and that’s their prerogative just like it’s mine not to agree with their faith or lifestyle. And I am not interested in changing the definition of their words to make them accept me.

    But if our society is committed to binding religious beliefs with the law, then you leave little choice but to make this a religious battle for equal rights.

  25. - curious george - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 4:25 pm:

    let it be…
    Support it 100 %.
    Civil unions which provide equality under the law as those provided a “married” union without the trappigs of a multitude of religious beliefs is only the correct thing to do. Sexual orientation is not the issue in play, it is affording equal rights whether it be a gay or heterosexual couple who want the legal benefits afforded those obtain a marriage license.

  26. - zatoichi - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 4:33 pm:

    I support the concept. There are several single sex couples in various parts of my family. They have lasted longer then the bitter divorces several of the straight couples who had huge fabulous church weddings with all the promises of undying love. Several cousins are working on marriage 3 or 4 with kids from each relationship. My sister and her partner have a great long term relationship and some great kids of their own who are doing just as fine. This kind of bill would cut out some of the pure crap they have to put up with because they do not fit the “preferred” marriage model. They are as solid a family unit as I have seen anywhere.

  27. - Jaded - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 4:55 pm:

    Am I the only one wondering why Koehler is carry this issue. Peoria/Tazewell/Fulton County aren’t exactly the bastions of liberal thought in this state. Slone was defeated because she became (among other things) way to liberal for that House District. I guess I don’t know much, but it doesn’t seem like the best issue for him to be carrying.

  28. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 6:24 pm:

    My attorney once told me that under the law a marriage is nothing more than a binding contract between two adults concerning sex, progeny, and property. As long as this legally binding contract exists, then call it a marriage or a civil union or anything you care to call it and give it the same legal benefits. But if there is no legaly binding contract, then there should be no State recognition or benefits.

  29. - Michael - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 9:03 pm:

    Support. It’s long past due.

    Thanks for referencing Loving v. Virginia, Bill Preston. Best. Case name. Ever.

  30. - ZC - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 9:27 pm:

    Something else to keep track of in this debate: one reason that many businessmen favor this measure (and they may signal this to some of the pro-business Republicans) is it gives them a standard to keep track of any domestic partner benefits _they_ already offer, in the private sector. Right now a lot of Illinois businesses offer them, but they really have better things to do with their cash than occasionally investigate the private lives of their employees whenever they have grounds to suspect that their benefits packages are being exploited (so casual friends are posing as couples, to give one of them benefits - it’s rare, but it’s not just Adam Sandler territory either). So an official state legal category gives business a definite marker to peg their own policies to.

  31. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 11:11 pm:

    Where is the language that repeals the previously enacted Defense of Marriage Act that the General Assembly previously passed and the a previous Governor signed into law? This is a cynical game of euphemisms and nomenclatures.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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