Legal & Financial

Civil unions bill moves to Illinois House floor

Gay couples can marry in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Civil unions are granted in Vermont, New Jersey, California and New Hampshire. And Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia issue domestic partnerships.

The AP reports that supporters of gay marriage say 2009 could be the year Illinois seriously considers establishing civil unions, but opponents say the pendulum of public support is swinging the other way.

A bill giving gay couples the right to form civil unions squeaked through a legislative committee Thursday. It would not legalize same-sex marriage, but it would give gay couples many of the legal benefits of marriage.

Rep. Deb Mell, who is gay, said 648 state laws — on topics from inheritance to health care — help married couples.

“I find it very strange that I can be elected to the General Assembly and vote on rules and laws, but these don’t apply to me and my family,” said Mell, D-Chicago. “We’re not protected.”