Illinois Marriage Law and Same-Sex Couples
The worldwide battle for marriage equality for same-sex couples has resulted in bitter, ongoing fights in all branches of government and among the people to win marriage rights for same-sex couples. Several states have preemptively banned same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses after President Bill Clinton passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. However, even some states that banned same-sex marriage have allowed civil unions. One of those states is Illinois, which legalized them in 2011.
The state of Illinois was the first state to repeal its sodomy laws; the General Assembly in 1962 at the recommendation of the American Law Institute. However, several decades later it banned same-sex marriages in the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, though it allowed gays to adopt children, including second-parent adoption, and drafted its Domestic Violence Act to apply to same-sex partners. It also passed an LGBT anti-discrimination bill in 2006 and an anti-bullying bill in 2010. Thus it was likely that same-sex marriage would have a lot of support in the state. In 2005, an Illinois Policy survey showed 31 percent of residents supported same-sex marriage rights. In five years, that percentage had increased to 48 percent.
Illinois state representatives and senators had drafted bills amending the act and allowing same-sex marriage in 2007 and 2009, but they died in committee. Those same years, the Illinois General Assembly introduced civil union bills that also died in committee. However, on November 30, 2010, the House passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act allowing civil unions by a margin of 61 to 52; the Senate approved it the next day by a margin of 32 to 24. Governor Pat Quinn signed the act into law on January 12, 2011; it went into effect on June 1.
The passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act makes Illinois one of 13 states that allow civil unions, the others being California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin. To date, no further attempts have been made to legalize same-sex marriage. So far, only Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont have granted full marriage rights to same sex couples, though a bill is currently pending in Washington.
Illinois Marriage Laws: What the State Constitution says…
(a) The following marriages are prohibited:
- A marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties;
- A marriage between an uncle and a niece or between an aunt and a nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption;
- A marriage between an uncle and a niece or between an aunt and a nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood;
- a marriage between cousins of the first degree; however, a marriage between first cousins is not prohibited if:
- both parties are 50 years of age or older; or ii. either party, at the time of application for a marriage license, presents for filing with the county clerk of the county in which the marriage is to be solemnized, a certificate signed by a licensed physician stating that the party to the proposed marriage is permanently and irreversibly sterile;
- a marriage between 2 individuals of the same sex.
- Parties to a marriage prohibited under subsection.
- Of this section who cohabit after removal of the impediment are lawfully married as of the date of the removal of the impediment.
- Children born or adopted of a prohibited or common law marriage are the lawful children of the parties.
Illinois Statute Chapter 750 ' 5/212
Source: Illinois State Constitution