On June 1, 2011, Illinois began recognizing civil unions in accordance with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (the “Act”). The Act’s purpose is to allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and provide them with the same legal obligations, responsibilities, benefits and protections as are afforded or recognized under Illinois law to married spouses (e.g., the ability to make emergency medical decisions for partners, adoption and parental rights, spousal testimonial privilege and state spousal benefits, including workers’ compensation and spousal pension coverage). A notable caveat (and continuing sore point for some who seek full federal recognition of same-sex unions) is that the Act does not label these civil unions as a “marriage.” Nonetheless, all rules governing annulment, divorce and property division that currently apply to couples in marriages will apply to couples in civil unions.
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