Illinois Senate passes civil unions bill.

CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s almost a done deal: Illinois allowing same-sex unions. The state Senate passed the civil unions bill Wednesday. The governor gets it on Thursday.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman spoke with critics who say it cheapens traditional marriage, and backers who say it’s one step closer to gay marriage.

Ryan Endress read his Twitter history. One of the entries said “Civil Unions pass in Illinois!”

He got the message from Equality Illinois this afternoon. One day ago, he and his partner, Ira Dym, who have commitment rings, but who have no legal bond, could only hope.

We asked if they thought it would pass so quickly. They said ‘no,’ especially because there was such debate.

Illinois State Senator Rickey Hendon said, “When I sit here and hear adulterous folks and womanizers cheating on their wives, and down low brothers say they’re gonna vote against this bill, it turns my stomach. That’s hypocrisy.”

Dym and Endress say they’ve kind of felt that way all along.

Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen was a voice for the other side.

“The reason marriage exists is that sex between a man and a woman produces children,” said Lauzen.

Debate aside, the measure passing means – once it’s signed – Dym and Endress will have more rights than before.

They include medical decision power in the event of illness, hospital visitation rights all day, and property inheritance rights.

Civil unions will make all 648 benefits and protections of marriage available to same-sex couples.

Peter Breen, from Thomas More Society said, “The problem is that this bill not only created civil unions, but then elevated those to the same level as marriage between one man and one woman.”

“That is your religious belief, and we live in a country where we have the right to believe that, but you don’t have the right to force that belief upon other people,” Endress countered.

Breen talked about rights, too.

“Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they see fit,” he said. “But they don’t have the right to re-define marriage for the rest of us.”

He says had legislators voted on this measure after the newly-elected took their seats, the outcome likely would have been different.

As for Dym and Endress, their future plans likely include a civil union license which could become available starting in July.

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