A federal judge issued a ruling on Dec. 16, 2013, that cleared the way for same-sex couples with special circumstances to marry now, instead of waiting until the official June 1, 2014, effective date of Illinois' Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The decision only applies to couples if one partner has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
It was a moment of triumph for same-sex marriage advocates when Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act last month. For some couples, though, one provision of the law was troublesome: the June 1, 2014, effective date. They wondered why they had to wait.
At this writing, the most the press can find out about Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's plans to sign the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is that it will happen sometime in November. The signing will likely be a major event, just as the state legislature's approval of the bill was on Nov. 5.
After what most are hailing as an historic vote in the legislature on Nov. 5, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he will sign the legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state. When Quinn follows through, the right to marry regardless of the spouses' genders will have been approved in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
An interesting story from another state raised questions of guardianship and divorce as well as the status of a marriage after one spouse has undergone gender reassignment. Guardianships and family matters may intersect more as the Baby Boom generation ages. The gender reassignment question is particularly enlightening for states like Illinois that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
Marriage is on the minds of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices these days. Last week, the court heard arguments in two high-profile cases that could change how states and the federal government define marriage. While the decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry will not directly affect same-sex couples in Illinois, the court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor could. Much, of course, depends on the state's recognition of same-sex marriage, a matter that is still pending in the General Assembly.
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 First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has entered the ever-escalating battle that same-sex marriage has become. The court ruled this week that the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act does in fact discriminate against same-sex married couples. However, same-sex couples hoping for nationwide acceptance of their right to marry, to have children and even to divorce will have to wait a little bit longer: The court said DOMA will remain in full effect until the U.S. Supreme Court has reviewed the law.
We are continuing the discussion from our last post about same-sex marriage and data. As Illinois and other states -- and presidential candidates -- debate the pros and cons of same-sex marriage, partisan and independent organizations are gathering data to support one side or the other.
Same-sex marriage is still in the headlines in Illinois. The arguments for and against have not varied much over the years, though the civil union law added a little complexity on both sides. What we do know is that the debate won't die down any time soon -- it is an election year, after all.