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Illinois’ civil unions law takes effect

Illinois joins five other states in legalizing civil unions, a move that will give same-sex couples many of the legal protections that are now granted to straight, married couples.

Those who enter into civil unions will be able to: make medical decisions for each other, file a lawsuit for a partner’s death, receive pension benefits if a partner dies, dissolve the relationship in court and be considered legal parents of their children.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the historic civil union legislation into law in January. June 1, 2011 is the first day gay or straight couples can apply for licenses in the state.

Five other states and the District of Columbia have civil unions or similar laws on the books. Those states include California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.