Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Monday
signed into law a bill that offers gay and lesbian couples many of
the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, the AP reported.
Quinn signed the law, which was
approved by lawmakers in December, in front of a capacity crowd.
“Today is an important day in the
history of our state because today we are showing the world that the
people of Illinois believe in equality for all,” Quinn said. “We
look forward to individuals and businesses from across the country
choosing to move to Illinois where we believe that everyone is
entitled to the same rights.”
The new law, which takes effect June 1,
gives couples – gay or straight – the ability to enter into civil
unions granting them many rights given to married couples, including
hospital visitation rights, adoption and parental rights, inheritance
rights, and the right to dispose of a partner's remains.
Illinois joins New Jersey in offering
the union. The
Hawaii Senate approved a similar bill on Friday. Five states and
the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Several other
states – including California and Nevada – recognize gay and
lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.
In applauding the law, gay rights
activists called on lawmakers to push on to marriage.
“Now the legislature and governor
should finish the job,” Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom
to Marry, said in a statement. “Time and again states that have
created civil union as a means of both giving and withholding –
providing select legal protections while withholding the freedom to
marry and all its meaning – have found that civil union falls far
short of marriage with all its tangible and intangible significance
in our lives.”
“There is no reason to have two lines
at the clerk's office when we can all share in the same
responsibilities, same respect, and same rules of civil marriage,”
“We look forward to the day when
Illinois joins other states in the nation by making marriage
available for all Illinois citizens,” said Colleen Connell,
executive director of the ACLU of Illinois, which helped draft the