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Same-Sex Civil Unions To Become Legal In Illinois

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CHICAGO (WBBM) — Same-sex civil unions become legal in Illinois next week, and backers plan a downtown event to celebrate the occasion. WBBM’s Bob Roberts has a preview.

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Because the law imposes a one-day waiting period, the first ceremonies can be performed on June 2.

The city of Chicago is partnering with the gay-and-lesbian rights group, Equality Illinois and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund to welcome the era of civil unions with a ceremony at 10 a.m. June 2 in Millennium Park.

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said judges will be on hand to perform ceremonies for 30 couples.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the measure into law in February, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are both expected to speak at the ceremony.

A reception will follow at the Cultural Center.

Cherkasov said he expects some confusion to take place when the law changes. But Lambda Legal attorney Christopher Clark said he has no indication that any county clerks will try to stand in the way of the licensing procedure.

The civil unions law does not specify the price to apply for a certificate, but Clark said he has had no indication that any of the county clerks, who will issue the civil union certificates, will set a price dramatically higher than marriage licenses in order to discourage civil unions.

Couples in civil unions will have the same state rights as married couples. Civil unions must be dissolved by court order, the same as marriages, and those already in a civil union cannot enter into a second without the first being dissolved.

Clark said that the federal government does not recognize such unions, so that couples joined in Illinois civil unions must still file their federal income taxes separately.

As of June 1, Illinois will recognize, as civil unions, those civil unions and same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The civil unions law will provide for unions between opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

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