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Illinois Senate votes for Civil Unions

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

The Illinois State Senate has now voted to enact civil unions, by a bipartisan vote of 32 to 24, following yesterday’s vote in the House. After the signature of Governor Pat Quinn – who has been campaigning for the bill – the following will be law in the state:

Section 20. Protections, obligations, and responsibilities. A party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law.

Granted, this does not carry the prestige of marriage, but to those Illinoisans who are now able to access many rights that they could not access before, I offer my joyous congratulations.

Comments

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Kate
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Hooray for the good news!

Lindoro Almaviva
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Again, separate but equal, if African Americans would not take SBE we shouldn’t either.

Matt
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

From what I read, CU’s will take effect on July 1 of next year.

Kate
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

True, Lindoro…but until DOM gets repealed, it’s going to be a state by state fight, and I’m glad to see one more state take a step in the right direction.

Timothy Kincaid
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro,

I think that the same-sex couples in Illinois will happily accept the protections which they can get at this time, while continuing to work towards equality.

Remember “separate but equal” is a hell of a lot better than “separate with nothing at all”.

Matt
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Hear hear, TK.

Jason D
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Sorry, Lindo, I live in IL and I will GLADLY take SBE for THE TIME BEING.

If the choice is between swimming or riding in the cargo hold — well, these are shark infested waters, my friend.

Jaft
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Fellow Illinoisan here and I’m afraid I have to side with Jason D.

Hell, it’s taken us so long just to get this far that I was just about emotional all of today as if it’d been marriage.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

If you want to take SBE, knock yourself out, you have the right and I applaud it and will even go to war to defend it.

That being said, rather than celebrating, the SBE decision should make us pause and look at what our representatives and those who speak for us at the higher levels are willing to do. They believe we are not worthy of full recognition and are willing to bend over, give our money away and accept crumbles thrown at the floor.

If you want to go into a CU, not only will I congratulate you, you send me an email and I will sing as you walk down the isle.

But for me, ME; I stopped offering apologies for existing and living my life as I see it fit and exercising my constitutional right to demand to be treated the exact same way that my twice married Father and mother in law (and best friend) are treated in each of their marriages.

So the question is not how are we going to celebrate the crumbles that we got, the question is; come July 2, 2011, what are we going to do to ensure that we are treated like human beings and not like some sort of deceased animal that needs to be kept away from the pure-bred and God-fearing hypocrites from the suburbs.

Timothy Kincaid
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro,

Civil unions are not crumbles thrown at the floor.

You may choose to deny your family the protections of a civil union, but your pride will not provide a roof over your head when when your partner dies and his family throws your belongings on the street. Your demands may feel good, but they will not alleviate rights to medical determination. I agree that we must continue to fight for equality, but I see no valor in your partner being denied your employer’s health insurance policy because you choose to ignore your right to a civil union.

These are not crumbles. These are basic dignities that are denied in two thirds of the states. Residents of Utah or Nebraska or Georgia or Texas would be delighted with ANY of the rights that have been enacted today in Illinois.

We will eventually get there everywhere. We celebrate steps forward. With much joy.

At this point it seems petty to piss on your cake because it doesn’t have strawberry frosting.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy:

The fact is that these would be recognized in just one state, unlike a marriage that has to be recognized in every state.

Fact is that any family can, and eventually will, challenge those CU in courts and try to keep one partner out of the inheritance and their argument will be that they were not married and therefore they were not entitled to have these rights.

Fact is that the CU law would not stop any grieving mother from trying to stop a partner from making end of live decisions for the other partner. Look at what happened to Terry Schiavo; the fact that she was married and the fact that her husband had the right to make those decisions didn’t stop her parent from raging a decades long battle to take those rights away to the point that even the government officials sought to help them. Do you think that having a CU all of a sudden stop the problem in a gay couple?

The fact is that every time we are given crumbs, because that is what they are, crumbs; there will be people that will protest that we were given those crumbs and will try to take even the crumbs away. Look at what NOM did in Iowa and several other states with all the degrees of success and lack thereof that they had.

You are right, my pride will not put a roof over my head, but CU will not stop anyone from an angry family who did not want to see their precious boy or girl in a homosexual relationship from challenging it on the basis that it was not a marriage and try to keep the surviving partner from what should be rightfully his or hers.

Look at what happened to Anna Nicole, she was legally married, whether she married for love or for love of money the fact is that she was legally married and she was entitled to half of whatever her husband had when he died. That did not stop his sons from wanting, and successfully keeping her out of her inheritance and they did that because they didn’t like her.

Do you think that all of a sudden the fact that anyone has a CU will stop bitter families from going after a surviving partner? I am glad you are that optimist, I am not.
Again, anyone who wants to enter into a CU in the state of IL, call me, I’ll be happy to sing just about anything and i will rejoice in your decision, it is you choice and it is to be celebrated.

I, I, chose to criticize because after all, this is just another reminder that we are not seen as people who deserve the full rights accorded to us in the constitution. Call it pride, call it stubbornness, call it whatever you want to call it and it is all true. It is also true that this is nothing but a half hearted attempt to quiet us down by throwing something that sounds similarly close to what we want with the hopes that we just take it and walk away without making a fuzz.

Hunter
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro —

No one is pretending that civil unions are the final step in Illinois. My state senator has already introduced a marriage bill. I expect she’ll keep doing it until they get it right.

And, regrettably, because of DOMA, same-sex marriages do not have to be recognized in every state. That’s going to take federal action to fix — and probably a lot more law suits, because no one in Washington is going to budge on it.

You’ve refuted your own argument about families intervening in estates and end-of-life matters: the Schiavos were married, as you point out, and that didn’t stop her family. How is that going to be different for CUs?

In the case of Illinois, at least, this is not a crumb — it’s part of a process.

Priya Lynn
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro said “The fact is that these would be recognized in just one state, unlike a marriage that has to be recognized in every state.”.

No, that’s not true, most states don’t recognize other states same sex marriages.

You go on and on about marriage rights that weren’t recognized but you’re all hung up on worst case scenarios. In the vast majority of marriages those rights are recognized and there is no reason to believe that rights won’t be recognized in the majority or nearly all civil unions.

L. Junius Brutus
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro: “If you want to go into a CU, not only will I congratulate you, you send me an email and I will sing as you walk down the isle.”

Uh, no, thank you very much.

“Fact is that any family can, and eventually will, challenge those CU in courts and try to keep one partner out of the inheritance and their argument will be that they were not married and therefore they were not entitled to have these rights. ”

Not to you! You would slap them until your hands becamse sore! They would think twice before confronting such ferocity.

“Fact is that the CU law would not stop any grieving mother from trying to stop a partner from making end of live decisions for the other partner. Look at what happened to Terry Schiavo”

Then again, real marriage could not stop that either. So be happy, you’ll have something to complain about, even when we have full and complete equality.

Civil unions give you a toolbox to resist people trying to steal your stuff, while you prefer to have nothing. Well, that’s OK.

Timothy Kincaid
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro,

Your “facts” are not factual.

* Same sex marriages are not recognized in any state that does not conduct them (or a civil union or DP) other than New York and Maryland.

* In Illinois, challenges to CU’s will be no more nor less effective than to marriages.

* Relatives cannot challenge a civil union on the basis that it is not a marriage. The language of the law makes it clear that it has equal legal standing.

I understand your anger. And, indeed, we all have the right to be angry that we are not equal.

But your anger does not change reality, and the reality is that this is a wonderful change in Illinois – something worth celebrating. This is not “a crumb”, but a very joyous occasion.

You have two choices. You can join in the celebration or you can piss on the parade. I invite you to set aside, for a moment, your anger and join the party.

Jason D
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindo, I think you’re tilting at windmills my friend.

FACT: I want marriage.

FACT: It didn’t happen today, but something closer to marriage than NOTHING absolutely DID happen.

FACT: Your arguments amount to pointing out the flaws of probate court. By your own examples marriage isn’t even enough. Hell we shouldn’t even bother if Anna Nicole got jacked, right?

Just because I got 2nd place instead of winning the race doesn’t negate the hard work, or what that small victory means. Nobody’s goal is to win second place, but most people register at least SOME happiness over it.

You remind me of those people who say “2nd place is the FIRST LOSER!!!!”

or more like:

SON: Dad we won the game.
DAD: yeah, but it wansn’t the state championship.
SON: Dad we won state championship.
DAD: Let me know when you win nationals.
SON: We won nationals.
DAD: That’s nice, but it’s still not getting a football scholarship to XYU.
SON: Dad I got the scholarship to XYU.
DAD: Call me when you’re a pro athlete.

We get it, we all get it, and hell MOST OF US AGREE THAT MARRIAGE IS THE REAL GOAL.

It’s the rainstorm we want. But you’re forgetting that rainstorms are made up of lots and lots of drops of water. This is but one, but it still matters.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Again, you all are on me because I am not happy, so let me repeat myself: If you choose to enter into a CU, congratulations, it is your right and it is to be celebrated all the way to the moon.

I chose not to celebrate because this is to me a slap in the face for reasons that are well established and explained. Don’t like it? Again, it is your right and you can be mad at me and you can criticize, I am a big boy and I can take it.

We are all celebrating and we have yet to

1. have the law singed (although there is a promise)

2. have the people of IL accept it. Remember that every time there is any advance NOM and people like that will come and create a fizz and before weknow it we have to make apologies again for existing.

You want to play like that? Again, it is your right and it needs to be defended until our last breath, but I chose not to, because if the 80 taught us anything it was that if we start a movement making excuses and apologies for our existence, people will believe that they have the upper hand and we will be treated like we are the help.

If Stonewall taught us anything, it was that there is a breaking point and at that moment, apologies and excuses are no longer needed and or necessary.

I’m sorry to rain on your parade, i truly am, but personally I do not believe that this is cause for personal celebration. We have leaders both in government and in the gay community who are too willing to sell our words and aspirations short because they believe we do not want this bad enough. Why? because we have been content with SBE in every scenario where there has been an option.

Rosa parks didn’t jumpstart a movement by sitting in the middle of the bus. Neither will we by accepting 2nd best. In a race, 2nd best is an honorable position, when it comes to our constitutional rights, second best is “you are not good enough.”

As to my scenarios, well, i am only going to sit and wait. Let’s see what happens in the next couple of years and how people use the loopholes in the law to stick it to the hated sinner who dared to corrupt my sweet little boy.

Again, I am stating my personal opinions and you are entitled to celebrate and drink Champagne till you all over.

Other Fred in the UK
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

@ Lindoro Almaviva

I accept your point about celebrations being premature and people should wait until Civil Unions are actually part of the law of the State of Illinois.

[blockquote]
I chose not to celebrate because this is to me a slap in the face for reasons that are well established and explained.
[/blockquote]

I understand why you consider Civil Unions a slap in the face, I don’t understand why you consider them not to be a [i]lesser[/i] slap in the face than no formal legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Or to put it brutally, is it not better to be a second class citizen than a third class one?

Lindoro Almaviva
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I understand why you consider Civil Unions a slap in the face, I don’t understand why you consider them not to be a lesser slap in the face than no formal legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Or to put it brutally, is it not better to be a second class citizen than a third class one?

I can see how someone will think that way, but unfortunately our legal system does not recognize classes, therefore we are all either treated the same or we are not at all. That is the beauty of our system, that eventually, all these Civil unions will be seen for what they are: A version of Separate but Equal, a doctrine that died a violent death 50 years ago.

My point all along has been that those who wish to celebrate, should, until they are hoarse. I choose not to because history has told us that the moment we accept a lesser class as a stepping stone to reach a goal, then people in the outside will believe that we either do not want it that bad or will believe that we have reached our goals already and will not understand when we demand more. In other words, people in the outside do not understand how it is not having these rights and the moment we settle they will firmly believe that they have done the right thing and will be genuinly surprised when we demand more.

I do not believe this is the moment to settle, but it is apparent that many people will, and that is their right. My issue is that the moment we settled for the first civil unions we shot ourselves in the foot because the anti-gay movement (at least those who have one foot on reality) realized that with enough pressure we would be good boys and girls and settle for something less than what we wanted only to placate whatever reservations the other side had.

It has been my experience that in every single case where a court gave a legislatire the choice of marriage or civil unions, every time the legislature, with the blessing of the gay community, chose the lesser of the 2. Now the trend is to debate Civil Unions because the evidence is that given the choice between the lesser of the 2 and nothing, we will chose to give up our rights to be treated equally and settle for the lesser one.

To a certain degree, we have created that problem because understandeably we want to have somesort of protection, but the problem is that now we have created a harder road for marriage because legislatures all accross the US know that the gay community will accept the lesser status if given the chance. Now the only way we are going to receive full recognition is through the courts because the legislatures are not willing to go fight for us when we are happy to settle for less.

I know my opinions are not sitting well with 90% of the population, but unfortunately a close examination of history will tell you that the moment a population settles for less, then the road to equality gets harder because the outsiders are not willing to budge because they know the populationin question will, well, settle for less.

ebohlman
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro: Your arguments are starting to remind me of the people who diss the It Gets Better project because it does nothing to stop bullying. You’re actually indulging what’s called the Nirvana Fallacy, namely the notion that if some action doesn’t completely address every aspect of the problem it’s supposed to solve then you’re better off doing nothing rather than taking the action.

History shows that in most jurisdictions that have implemented marriage equality, civil unions were the “scaffolding” that made that implementation possible. They aren’t intended to be permanent solutions.

Civil unions in Illinois are what’s achievable at the moment. Having them will change what’s achievable in the future, and for the better.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I have not called for inaction, I have said “this is not enough for me.”

customartist
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I am afraid that that half of “roof over [one’s] head” will be taxed as income by the Federal Givernment to the surviving Gay spouse, unlike that of their Straight counterpart. Hope they can afford it?!

And while “we will eventually get there”, I am 50 years old. My legally married husband and I need to have these Federal Benefits now. Eqiality is not “strawberry frosting”, and crun=mbs, or table scraps are not a “joyous occasion” IMHGO.

Many Negroes were “happy” to ahve a roof over their heads too.

Said the Palntation owner scraping the scraps off of the grand dining table: “Here – take these leftovers out back of the kitchen. You can’t eat in Here with Us – Oh no! Enjoy! I’m so ggood to you.”

Other Fred in the UK
December 2nd, 2010 | LINK

@ Lindoro Almaviva

Many thanks for your reply. To be honest it sounds like you care more about the principle of equality before the law than the actual legal protections afforded by marriage (or Civil Unions). While that is a perfectly legitimate point of view, please don’t be surprised if others are happy (but not satisfied) that they are now less unequal before the law and have many of the protections of marriage.

Timothy Kincaid
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

customartist,

You lose credibility when you equate civil unions to slavery. And none of your complaints – though valid – would be addressed had Illinois voted for state recognized marriages instead of civil unions.

Jason D
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Lindo. Apparently this has to be explained to you again.

Being happy about civil unions, happy to have SOME recognition, and SOME benefits and rights

DOES NOT

DOES NOT

DOES NOT

equal “settling”.

This is the major flaw in your black and white worldview. You do not see the reality of the wide grey area.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Jason:

This has been explained several time:

This is my, MY, MY, MY opinion and nobody else’s.

I have made it pretty clear that i am speaking for myself and how I see it. I have said it several times that if anyone wants to celebrate to have at it all day long.

Jason D
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“I do not believe this is the moment to settle” Then don’t type things like this. You’re saying the rest of us are settling, and that is a my issue. You are presuming to know what the celebration means, you are dead wrong.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

You know, you are right, i did say that. But that is still MY opinion, MINE, MINE. The only way you cal tell me i am wrong is if you have a window into the future and can tell me that in 10 years time we will not be in the same position that we are now.

What I am telling you is that history has told us that the moment a group takes something less than what they want in order to “make a gain”, the non supporters will believe that the goal has been reached and will refuse, or be surprised when said group demands the rest.

I am saying that NONE of the legislatures (except for maybe CA) is talking about Gay marriage but about Civil Unions. Why? Why is it that our representatives are talking about the goal being Civil Unions and not marriage? Why is it that all of a sudden our elected representatives talk about how they are OK with Civil Unions but not with Marriage? Who told then that Civil Unions were an acceptable form?

If taking less than what you expect “for now” is not settling, then what is it?

Timothy Kincaid
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Lindoro,

Yes your opinions are yours, yours, yours, but your assumptions are just wrong, wrong, wrong:

What I am telling you is that history has told us that the moment a group takes something less than what they want in order to “make a gain”, the non supporters will believe that the goal has been reached and will refuse, or be surprised when said group demands the rest.

So far there have been civil unions in:

Vermont – from 2000 through 2009, at which point they were replaced by marriage.

Connecticut - from 2005 through 2010, at which point they were replaced by marriage.

New Hampshire
– from 2007 through 2010, at which point they were replaced by marriage.

New Jersey – since 2006. Last year there was an attempt to change them for marriage, but it was unsuccessful. There will be other attempts once Gov. Christie is no longer in office. Equality NJ is currently suing the state for marriage.

Illinois – not yet signed. Already folks like Mayor Daly are talking about the eventuality of marriage.

I am saying that NONE of the legislatures (except for maybe CA) is talking about Gay marriage but about Civil Unions. Why?

Actually, Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island are talking about marriage and not civil unions.

Why is it that our representatives are talking about the goal being Civil Unions and not marriage?

They aren’t.

Why is it that all of a sudden our elected representatives talk about how they are OK with Civil Unions but not with Marriage?

Because some of them are OK with gay couples having the same rights, but are still hung up on the word “marriage”

Who told then that Civil Unions were an acceptable form?

Everyone. Until we are able to get full recognition, everyone (but you) wants to get what we can get.

Civil Unions are not ultimately acceptable, but they are infinitely better than the currently achievable alternative of nothing at all.

Ray
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

What Timothy said. Ditto. Get what you can and keep talking about the disparity.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

What can I say? When it comes to my rights I do not compromise. I was taught that rights are not something you compromise on. Compromise is for dinner, the theater, vacations and even child rearing, but not when it comes to my rights.

Gandhi did not bring down an empire by compromising on what was rightfully the Indian people’s. MLK did not bring change by taking less than what was rightfully owed to the millions of people that were suffering under the crush of segregation and oppression; but what do I know?

Again celebrate all you want; it is only matter of time before we can all be civili united and are told: What the he’ll more you want? But again, what do I know

Other Fred in the UK
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

@ Lindoro Almaviva

Gandhi did not bring down an empire by compromising on what was rightfully the Indian people’s.

The Empire fell because World War II economically ruined the U.K. and we could not afford to maintain the Empire. Even Gandhi had to compromise on partition, it was the price of independence.

In a separate point, let us assume that you are correct and that the enactment of Civil Unions delays full legal equality*. Some of us may consider that a delay to be justified by actual practical legal rights now, especially for couples affected by illness, separation, death, etc. for whom these rights would make an actual difference to their lives now. I, certainly, am glad of the fact that I am now planning on entering a Civil Partnership with my boyfriend rather than wondering when the HM Government might bring a marriage equality bill before Parliament.

*I agree with Mr Kincaid that the evidence is against that assumption.

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