SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A bill that would provide same-sex couples in Illinois the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples is on its way to the governor.
The state Senate on Wednesday approved the bill that would give two people who entered a civil union protections and benefits under Illinois law that previously were either unavailable to them or required massive amounts of legal paperwork, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The state House approved the measure Tuesday. Gov. Pat Quinn said in his recent re-election campaign he would sign the bill.
"It provides a lot of really crucial benefits in terms of protecting couples' ability to take care of one another in times of need," said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
Among other things, the bill would allow same-sex partners in a civil union to make medical decisions when one is hospitalized, protect civil union partners from having to testify against each other in state courts, and give a surviving partner the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the Tribune said. If a person has a pension, a same-sex partner in a civil union would be entitled to a survivor pension benefit.
The bill also would require companies that provide spousal insurance coverage to offer the same coverage to partners in a civil union, but state officials said the bill shouldn't pressure businesses or the state, the Tribune said.
"There have been studies completed on this question on whether allowing for civil unions or LGBT marriage has an economic impact," said Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. "What they show is that, in fact, when a state like Illinois allows for civil unions, the impact on the economy is positive."