CHICAGO (February 14, 2011) — McDermott Will & Emery played a key role in ensuring that the citizens of Illinois clearly understand their rights, responsibilities, and obligations with regard to the state’s recently enacted Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.
Under the new law, which will go into effect June 1, 2011, same-sex and opposite-sex couples in civil unions will receive the same responsibilities, protections and benefits available to married couples under state law. The new law also establishes that out-of-state marriages, civil unions and certain domestic partnerships of same-sex couples will be automatically recognized and treated as civil unions in Illinois.
Equality Illinois, one of the Midwest’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organizations, was instrumental in drafting and lobbying for Illinois' new civil union law. In order to keep Illinois’ citizens informed of their rights, Equality Illinois worked with McDermott Will & Emery’s attorneys Todd A. Solomon, Brian J. Tiemann and Michael W. Weaver to prepare a detailed fact sheet that explains the new civil union law and its requirements with regard to civil union partners. McDermott also started to assist Equality Illinois to explain the new law at town hall meetings, held across the state from December 2010 through May 2011.
“Civil unions are somewhat novel and complicated legal structures that have only been authorized in a few states,” noted Mr. Solomon, partner in the Employee Benefits Practice Group at McDermott and author of Domestic Partner Benefits - An Employer's Guide. “This fact sheet is intended to inform potential civil union partners of their rights, responsibilities and obligations under the new law, and generally answer any questions the public may have.”
The fact sheet includes a summary of the legislative history in Illinois, explains the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act in detail, and debunks myths associated with the new Act. Furthermore, the fact sheet includes a Q&A with frequently asked questions such as:
• What state benefits is a couple entitled to if the parties enter a civil union?
• How will The Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act affect the children of same-sex couples?
• How will civil unions in Illinois interrelate with the laws of other states and the federal government?
• How will the state budget be affected?
The fact sheet is being distributed to individuals throughout the State and has been posted to the Equality Illinois website. The mission of Equality Illinois is to secure, protect and defend equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Illinois. To learn more about the mission, visions and values of Equality Illinois visit: http://www.eqil.org/.
McDermott Will & Emery’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is founded on the belief that diversity is necessary to achieve excellence in all aspects of client service. The Firm is committed to a culture that values and nurtures diversity and appreciates its importance in attracting and retaining exceptional talent. To meet this commitment, McDermott has established diversity programs and practices which have helped the Firm to encourage a breadth of ideas, experiences, perspectives and insights that are necessary to meet the challenges of today's global economy. In 2010, McDermott was recognized as One of the Top Three LGBT-Friendly Law Firms in Illinois by Equality Illinois.
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