Monday, January 31, 2011

Illinois enacts civil unions

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Gay marriage

Another small but appreciated step in the right direction:

CHICAGO -- Gov. Pat Quinn, saying it was a "day of history," signed legislation Monday legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, making Illinois one of about a dozen states that extend significant legal protections to same-sex couples.


The law, which takes effect June 1, gives gay and lesbian couples official recognition from the state and many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage, including the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner's property.

Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright, as do some countries, including Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands.


Opponents, including some religious and conservative groups, said the law is a step toward legalized same-sex marriage.

Which, of course, is a good thing.

More hardlined advocates will undoubtedly dismiss this as yet another half-assed attempt to please the LGBT community by extending some, but not all, the rights they deserve to be equal members of society. I do agree to a point, but I also believe in pragmatism over idealism. There are too many conservatives and bigots as it is to push for full-blown legalization across the board, so whatever bits and pieces we can get, we should take. It’s a small step, but small steps do add up over time, until you eventually get exactly what you wanted, even if it takes longer than it ideally should. Longer is better than never.