The Definition of the Institution of Marriage has officially been changed. In June of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional which stated the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman for the purpose of receiving federal benefits.
Five months later, on November 5, 2013, Illinois joined the bandwagon to support same-sex couples and became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The House of Representatives narrowly passed the bill 61-54-2 and “the state senate concurred a little more than an hour later.” Illinois Gay Marriage Bill Passes as State Poised to Become 15th to Legalize Same Sex Marriage, Huffington Post (November 5, 2013). This law will be signed by Governor Pat Quinn and implemented on June 1, 2014. After enduring many delays along the way, this is tremendous development for same-sex couples residing in Illinois.
Under the new measure, called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, “the definition of marriage in Illinois would change from an act between a man and a woman to one between two people. Once signed, civil unions could be converted to marriages within a year of the law going on the books.” This is being said, “the legislation would not require religious organizations to wed gay couples, and church officials would not be forced to allow gay couples seeking to marry to use their facilities.” Monique Garcia and Ray Long, Lawmakers approve gay marriage in Illinois, Chicago Tribune (November 5, 2013).
Currently, “same-sex couples are denied 1,138 rights that are “conferred to legally married couples, including power of attorney and visitation rights.” Nico Lang, Same-Sex Marriage Comes to Illinois, Rolling Stone (November 7, 2013). However, the focus of many opponents at this time is that marriage equality will infringe upon religious freedoms such as, religious groups being forced to provide health insurance to an employee’s same-sex spouse. It is uncertain what changes will be put into effect and how long it would take for the changes to be implemented but it is clear that more changes are coming.
At the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C. in downtown Chicago, our attorneys specialize in family law matters. If you or a loved one has questions about the marriage process for same-sex couples, please contact us today.