In addition to our newly launched civil union website, civilunions.aclu-il.org, our own Jill Metz, President of the ACLU of Illinois Board of Directors, wrote a great article for 10thousandcouples.com explaining the ins and outs of the new civil unions law:
Four years before Illinois passed the Illinois Civil Union Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU), with contributions from Lambda Legal staff, drafted a civil union bill. As this civil union bill made its way through the Illinois Senate and House, the ACLU supplemented its lobby force of two staff lobbyists by hiring contract lobbyists. Polling on the question of people’s support for civil unions was also paid for by the ACLU. As 2010 neared, the ACLU paid for patch-through calls from citizens to legislators and organized voter visits to legislative offices that were in swing districts because the ACLU wanted to make sure to counter the belief of some legislators that they did not have constituents in their districts interested in this legislation. The ACLU mobilized its 22,000 Illinois members through online Action Alerts about the legislation while working with other coalition members to successfully make Illinois one of the 13 states to provide protections and rights, as well as obligations, under the civil union law. On June 1, 2011, the Illinois Civil Union Act goes into effect.
Illinois’ extension of the right of equality and fairness to lesbian and gay couples through the Civil Union Act is complicated by the differences in the details of Illinois’ state laws, which now apply to same-sex couples regardless of whether or not they have entered into a civil union.
This article discusses the details, and explains what a civil union is, and what we get from being unioned. I will also discuss my cautions about relying solely on the civil union law and what is still missing from full equality under the Civil Union Act.