The Illinois Senate will vote today, Valentine's Day, on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, if everything goes as planned. Before the bill becomes law, of course, the House must pass it and the governor must sign it. Thirty days after that signing, all state laws regarding marriage will apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children.
The dispute between Catholic Charities and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services continues, with the most recent round going to the government. The organization has been trying to hold onto its state contracts to provide foster care and adoption services. Several dioceses from across the state have joined together to maintain the longstanding relationship. The Rockford Diocese is not involved.
A judge handed down a decision this week that settles the argument -- for now -- between four Catholic dioceses and the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. We have followed the case since early June, when a handful of dioceses objected to Catholic Charities providing adoption and foster care services to gay couples who have entered into a civil union.
In early June, we talked about a lawsuit filed against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services by Catholic Charities of the Springfield, Peoria and Joliet dioceses. Another diocese, Belleville, has joined the suit now, adding heat to the argument over providing foster and adoption services to same sex couples.
As Illinois nears the two-month mark under the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, other states have taken up the same-sex union debate. The argument has long simmered at the federal level, too, and a recently proposed Senate bill challenges the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) from a slightly different angle.
Illinois tests the waters of same-sex civil unions, and other state legislatures grapple with the issue of gay marriage. And there are women in the world who are still lobbying for the right to divorce.
In a dispute that has been brewing since Illinois lawmakers drafted the civil union statute, Catholic Charities and the state's Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are going head-to-head about the former's obligations under the new civil union law. The religious organization receives state funding to support its foster care and adoption services.
Last Wednesday was the first day same-sex couples could register for a civil union license in Illinois. In a courthouse just a couple of hours south of Chicago, a handful of couples lined up in anticipation perhaps of long-awaited nuptials. In line with them were two same-sex couples who were seeking different rights under the new law.
We've posted before about how counties are planning for the day the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act goes into effect. Now, just a few weeks shy of June 1, most county clerks have new application forms and certificates in hand or on order. At last, everything seems to be in place for same-sex couples to make it legal.
Early Census results showed an increase in the number of couples who cohabit. We know from history, though, that unmarried partners have to protect their assets just as carefully as married couples do. And while the issues may not be the same, the result of not planning for the break-up contingency can be painful, expensive litigation. The law doesn't provide for partners in heterosexual or same-sex relationships the way it provides for spouses or civil partners. So, what's an unmarried, cohabiting couple to do?