Illinois governor signs bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples


CHICAGO — Illinois became the 12th U.S. state on Monday to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Gov. Pat Quinn drew cheers from a crowd of more than 1,000 people who turned out to witness him sign into law a bill legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

The civil unions bill will provide spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance.

“Today is an important day in the history of our state because today we are showing the world that the people of Illinois believe in equality for all,” Quinn said after signing the legislation into law.

Watch here, via WLS-TV:

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act passed in the Illinois General Assembly during the lame duck session following the November 2010 election.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is openly gay, drew a long standing ovation from the crowd.

The law takes effect on June 1 and also applies to heterosexual couples. Illinois law will continue to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

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