Civil unions total more than 5,000 in Illinois – enough to show that they’re a failure. In the first year of civil unions, there were 4,910 couples who took out licenses in Illinois, plus same-sex couples who were married or civil unioned in other states whose relationship is recognized as a civil union here. Bernard Cherkasov, head of the gay right group Equality Illinois, says they followed the experiences of these couples for a year.
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“And what we learned through our year-long study is that in every area of law that civil unions covered, civil unions failed to provide full equality,” he said. “In area after area, whether tax law, health insurance, hospitalization, family issues, personal finance and actions by state and local officials, couples were either treated unequally or denied their rights, or singled out for discrimination. As we learned in history, separate does not make equal.” Civil unions are supposed to give couples the same rights under law as marriage, but Cherkasov says when the answer to “are you married?” isn’t “yes,” those rights are often denied. He says this is sometimes out of malice but often out of many members of the public not understanding what a civil union is supposed to mean. He says the state lawmakers who intended civil unions to be equal to marriage should enact civil marriage for same-sex couples. The civil union law went into effect June 1, 2011.