FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2007
– The 201-member Assembly of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) today voted to support a legal relationship known as "civil unions" that would enable unmarried couples to enjoy the same protections, benefits and responsibilities under state law that are granted to spouses. The vote was taken during the organization's 131st Annual Meeting here.
Under the resolution that was passed, the ISBA will support in concept Illinois House Bill 1826 creating the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, introduced earlier this year. It states that civil unions may include same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples and that persons who enter into civil unions must be at least 18 years old. Dissolution of a civil union would be governed by Chapter 750 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.
Illinois would recognize similar civil unions made by couples in other states who relocate here. Currently, states which have lawful civil unions are California, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont and the state of Washington. Oregon and New Hampshire will join that list in January 2008. Hawaii also extends certain rights to same-sex couples and cohabitating opposite-sex couples.
"Supporting civil unions is not only a vote for civil rights and human rights, but also economic rights," said Joseph G. Bisceglia, a partner at Jenner & Block who was installed yesterday as ISBA president. "With this action, the ISBA has agreed to provide guidance and support for legislative proposals regarding civil unions."
Supporters of the resolution maintained that Illinois law now discriminates against people in a loving, committed relationships who are unwilling or unable to marry. The proposed legislation will protect such couples from economic losses such as the loss of Social Security benefits and pensions. Dissolution of the civil union would be streamlined. Currently unmarried couples must file three or more separate lawsuits to address issues involved in ending the relationship. The proposed legislation would provide certainty as to the rights of same sex couples who adopt children.
The 32,000-member ISBA, with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public.
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