In a landmark 32 to 24 vote, the Illinois Senate has passed legislation recognizing civil unions among gay and lesbian couples. Thirty votes were needed for passage. The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has pledged to sign it.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716) passed the Illinois House on Tuesday by a 61-52 majority. The bill will provide spousal rights to same-sex partners on surrogate decision-making for medical care, burial decisions, wills, adoptions, as well as accident and health insurance.
State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks, the Chicago mayoral candidate and outspoken anti-gay pastor of one of the city's largest mega-churches, voted no. "Other city mayoral candidates, including Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico and Danny Davis, made calls to lobby lawmakers to support the legislation," reports the Sun-Times.
llinois will become the sixth state to allow civil unions. California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington have also passed similar laws. Same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Iowa.