Same-Sex Marriage in Illinois
On June 1, 2014, the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (the “Act”) took effect. This new Act allows for full marriage equality as a matter of state law, and legalizes same-sex marriage. Prior to this Act was put into effect, Illinois had the Illinois Civil Union Act which allowed for civil unions of same-sex individuals – the Civil Union Act still remains in effect.
Existing Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships
In addition to legalizing same-sex marriage, the Act also allows for civil unions to be voluntarily converted to a marriage provided certain steps are met. In order to convert a civil union to a marriage, parties to a civil union can do one of two things:
- Parties in a civil union can get married at any time;
- Parties in a civil union can convert their union to a marriage by application within the first year of the Act.
Upon conversion by application, the marriage will be deemed effective as of the date of the original civil union.
Under either process, as of the date of the marriage, the parties will be deemed to no longer be in a civil union, but rather a legal marriage. However, if parties were to choose conversion under (a), the marriage would be legal as of the date of the marriage, and not retroactive to the date of the civil union.
This right to convert a civil union to a marriage raises some interesting questions should a same-sex marriage ever go through the dissolution process, such as:
What is the date of marriage? Depending upon the conversion method chosen, those dates would be different.
How does the date of the civil union effect property distribution and support if the date of the marriage is different?
Would this different effective date have any effect on children of the civil union?
At Hoffenberg & Block, LLC, we assist you in finding answers to these questions and advocating appropriately, while striving to keep informed on the constantly changing and modifying law in this area.