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State of Illinois
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Current Status


  • Illinois was the first state to repeal state sodomy laws - the new state code passed on 28 July 1961 and became effective 1 January 1962.
  • In 1996, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was amended to prohibit marriage between two individuals of the same sex and stated that "marriage between 2 individuals of the same sex is contrary to the public policy of this State".
  • Attempts to add language banning same-sex marriage to the state constitution were not successful in IL.
  • Illinois provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees beginning in 2006.
  • February 2007, Representative Greg Harris introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Bill in the Illinois House of Representatives, which would have provided for same-sex marriage in the state. The bill died in committee.
  • From January 2009 to January 2013, Representative Harris and Senator Heather Steans introduced legislation to legalize marriage equality 8 times.
  • On 31 January 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions performed on or after 1 June 2011. In 2012 an attempt was made to repeal this legislation, but it failed.
  • 5 November 2013, the House of Representatives finally passed a bill (SB10) legalizing same-sex marriage by 61–54, narrowly achieving the necessary 60-votes. The state Senate quickly approved the amended bill by a 32–21 vote margin and Governor Quinn signed the bill into law on 20 November 2013.The law went into effect on 1 June 2014.

Legislation - Pending

SB 1564 - Amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act

Date Introduced: 22 April 2015


  • Another so-called "religious freedom"/"freedom to discriminate" bill, this bill would allow any health care provider to refuse to provide any health care/medical service to a person (interpret as any LGBT person) by claiming a conscientious objection.
  • Summary: Amends the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Makes changes in the Section concerning findings and policy. Defines "access to care and information protocols" and "material information". Provides that notwithstanding any other law, a health care facility, or any physician or health care personnel working in the facility, may refuse to permit, perform, assist in, counsel about, suggest, recommend, refer for, or participate in health care services because of a conscience-based objection only if the refusal occurs in accordance with written access to care and information protocols designed to ensure that (1) the patient receives material information in a timely fashion; and (2) the refusal will not impair the patient's health by causing delay of or inability to access the refused health care service. Provides that nothing in the Act shall be construed to prevent a health care facility from requiring that physicians or health care personnel working in the facility comply with access to care and information protocols. Makes other changes in Sections concerning: (i) discrimination by employers or institutions; and (ii) liability.
  • 17 June 2015, although the legislature is technically now in recess, the deadline for this bell was extended until 30 June 2015.

Legislation - Enacted

HB-5170 The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act

Author/Sponsor: Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)with co-sponsor Reps. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) and Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)
Date Introduced: 8 February 2012
Date Enacted: 5 March 2014


  • A bill to upgrade the IL civil union law to full a marriage equality law.
  • 5 November 2013, the IL House approved the bill, and the Senate concurred.
  • 20 November 2013, in Chicago, IL, at a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln, Governor Quinn signed the bill, upgrading the civil IL union law to a full marriage equality law. Originally the law was supposed to take effect 1 June 2014.
  • 5 March 2014, IL attorney general Lisa Madigan told county clerks to begin issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses immediately instead of waiting until 1 June 2014 when the law passed in 2013 would have taken effect, and IL Governor Pat Quinn said the IL Department of Public Health would accept all marriage licenses issued by any IL county clerk.

Lawsuits - Pending

Williams v. Colvin

Case #: 1:14-cv-08874
Court Level: 
Federal District Court
Date Filed: 
6 November 2014
Date of Appeal: 


  • 6 November 2014, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Dave Williams, a widower, formerly of Arkansas, now a Chicagoan, who was denied spousal benefits after the death of his husband, Carl Allen.
  • From Lambda legal: "Dave and Carl were a loving married couple living in Arkansas. After Carl became disabled in 2009, Dave cared for him at home until Carl’s untimely death in 2010. Now the SSA is denying this grieving widower benefits as a spouse, only because this same-sex couple lived in Arkansas, a state that discriminated against their marriage when one of them tragically died. Dave is just one of thousands of same-sex spouses who married the love of their life. Widows, widowers and retirees, wherever they live, need Social Security spousal benefits, earned through years of hard work, to support them as they age. No one should have to fight to be treated with respect by their federal government while they grieve the passing of their spouse."

Lawsuits - Resolved

Tanya Lazaro, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr and Darby v. Cook County Clerk David Orr

Case #: 12-CH-19718
Date Filed: 30 May 2012
Ruling Date: 17 December 2013


  • ACLU and Lambda Legal filed two lawsuits for 25 same-gender couples. The plaintiffs argued that the IL civil union law is unconstitutional because it denies them the freedom to marry.
  • Tanya Lazaro, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr was later consolidated into Darby v. Cook County Clerk David Orr.
  • 17 December 2013, the court dismissed the original case since the relief that the plaintiffs were seeking occurred when a civil marriage equality law was signed on 20 November 2013.
Demos Revelis, et al. v. Janet Napolitano, et al.

Case #: 1:2011cv01991
Date Filed: 23 March 2011
Ruling Date: 20 September 2012


  • 5 January 2012, in Demos Revelis, et al. v. Janet Napolitano, et al., the U.S. District Court ruled that despite the federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), LGBT couples must be treated the same as other married couples.
  • 20 September 2012, the case was dismissed for a technicality not related to DOMA.
Vernita Gray, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr

Case #: 13 C 8449
Date Filed: 22 November 2013
Ruling Date: 25 November 2013


  • A federal judge ruled that terminally ill Vernita Gray (represented by Lambda Legal) was legally allowed to marry her lesbian partner Patricia Ewert immediately, instead of waiting until 1 June 2014 when IL was originally supposed to begin issuing civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Brenda Lee, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr

Case #: 1:13-cv-8719
Date Filed: 6 December 2013
Ruling Date: 21 February 2014


  • Four same-sex couples filed a federal suit seeking to marry immediately instead of waiting until the scheduled 1 June start date.
  • 21 February 2014, the court ruled that banning civil marriage equality is unconstitutional, and ordered Cook County, IL to begin issuing licenses immediately, instead of waiting until 1 June 2014 when a new law was supposed to take effect statewide.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending


Ballot Initiatives - Passed



  • 26 February 2014, Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 157 IL residents regarding same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 52% supported it, 39% do not, and 9% do not know or refused to answer.
  • December 2013, a Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 52% of Illinois residents support same-sex marriage, while 39% opposed, and 9% didn't know or refused to answer. Poll Details