A same-sex civil unions bill passed through both chambers of the Illinois state legislature — the state Senate approved the legislation 32-24 this Wednesday, just one day after the state House voted 61-52 in favor of it on Tuesday.  Gov. Pat Quinn vowed to sign into law, in a speech evoking women’s suffrage and the 1960s civil rights movement,.

County clerks will be required to issue the civil union licenses when the law goes into effect on July 1. Judges, retired judges, public officials with the power to marry couples and religious officials will be allowed to perform civil union certifications. Courts will dissolve civil unions. Civil unions would be prohibited for anyone who is not 18, is related or is married or part of another civil union.

Under the legislation, gays and lesbians or heterosexual couples in civil unions could:

– Make health care decisions affecting their partners

– Decide how to dispose of a deceased partner’s remains

– Gain new standing in probate law and laws relating to estate succession, purchase and distribution of property

– Gain accident and health insurance protections tied to spouses.

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