On November 5, 2013, the Illinois legislature finally passed a measure allowing for gay marriage in Illinois. This epic win for marriage equality in Illinois will have a big impact on current and future family law issues. As a result, Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, PC will be closely following these changes in law that will definitely impact our clients and their domestic partnerships.
Federal Law & Gay Marriage
The repeal of the Defense Against Marriage Act ("DOMA") set the stage for the gay marriage bill passing in Illinois. Earlier this year the Supreme Court repealed section 3 of DOMA. By doing so the Supreme Court struck down DOMA's definition of marriage as only between a man and woman, finding that this definition was no longer a valid measure for determining which couples should receive federal benefits. Now, because this definition has been repealed, it has been replaced with a more inclusive definition of marriage, which encompasses both same sex and heterosexual couples.
Illinois Law and Gay Marriage
Earlier this year, the original proposal to pass gay marriage in Illinois failed when first presented in Springfield. However, the repeal of DOMA's antiquated definition of marriage was an impetus that re-ignited the push for marriage equality in Illinois. Now, the Illinois law that allows gay couples to marry has made Illinois the 15th state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriage. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law late in November, and it is set to go into effect on June 1st of next year.
What Does All of This Mean for Me and My Partner?
With the passing of the recent gay marriage bill, same sex couples who are married in Illinois will be considered "married" under DOMA/federal law, and thus entitled to all of the federal benefits that were previously only allotted to straight couples. The Illinois bill will also have a big impact on local Illinois law. Under the bill, the definition of marriage is changed to an act between two people, regardless of their sex, throwing away the old definition of marriage being only between a man and a woman. Once signed by Governor Pat Quinn, civil unions already entered into in Illinois will be converted into marriages, within a year of the bill being signed into law. Lastly, it is important to note that the bill still allows for religious freedom, as it does not require church or religious figures to perform same sex marriages if they do not want.
Gay couples in Illinois are finally close to receiving the equality and equal benefits of their straight counterparts. The passing of the gay marriage law, as well as the repeal of DOMA will have big impacts on same-sex couples and their families. The family law attorneys here at Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, PC, in Wheaton Illinois, are always available to discuss and provide you with relevant legal information about the impact the changes will have on family law in Illinois.