ACLU members and supporters around the state are taking action this week in support of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. The bill, which is close to passing, provides basic legal protections to gay and lesbian couples - like the ability to make emergency medical decisions for one another, or to dispose of a loved one's remains with dignity. It allows gay and lesbian couples to access all the legal protections and rights that the state grants automatically to other couples upon marriage.

Less than two weeks remain to pass this historic legislation out of the Illinois House and we need your help. Contact your legislator today, and urge them to support House Bill 2234.

In 2007, former state representative Larry McKeon testified to a House Committee about the trauma he faced when his partner was rushed to a Chicago hospital in critical condition. Despite prior visits to the same hospital, Representative McKeon was told that he could not be with his partner or be part of any end-of-life medical decisions until he provided yet another copy of the couple's health care power of attorney. During the time that Representative McKeon was gone from the hospital to retrieve the document, he partner passed away.

These basic legal protections are critically important, often in times of crisis. The denial of basic legal recognition harms Illinois families and couples most severely in times of economic insecurity, ill health and even death. Without the protections and responsibilities offered by civil union, gay couples may be unable to visit each other in a hospital, make life saving medical decisions for each other or even bury their loved one with dignity. There is no justification for denying lesbian and gay couples these protections.

Take action today in support of civil unions. Contact your legislator at