Family law for the LGBTQ community drastically changed with the landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. This is the day the Court ordered that every state must recognize same-sex marriage. Up to this point, same-sex marriage caused inconsistency and confusion from state to state. With the supreme court decision, a same-sex couple who gets married in Illinois can cross state lines and still be considered married.?Q
Marriage and Divorce
The Illinois Marriage Equality Bill was signed into law on November 20, 2013. Illinois was the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage. After being signed by the governor, the law took effect on June 1, 2014.
While marriage laws may still differ from one state to another, same-sex couples in specific states have the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples. One of these is spousal benefits, which includes the right to jointly own property and extend your healthcare benefit to your partner. Denial of any of these rights is discrimination.
As with traditional marriage, same-sex marriage can be dissolved by separation or divorce. If you are a same-sex couple and decide to end your relationship, you must formally so do by following the ?Dissolution of Marriage? statutes in your state. You must file for a divorce.
Adoption and Children
Once you are married, you may want to start a family. Illinois does recognize the right of same sex couples to adopt children. Illinois also recognizes certain surrogacy contracts, but only those regarding gestational surrogacy and not ?traditional surrogacy.? The difference between the two is that gestational surrogacy occurs when a woman undergoes In Vitro Fertilization (IFV) to carry a child who is unrelated to her, but rather is the child of a donor mother and donor father (who usually are a couple). Traditional surrogacy is when a surrogate female is inseminated using the sperm of a Father donor, thus making the surrogate also the child?s biological mother. Traditional surrogacy is against Illinois public policy.
Regarding adoption, it is possible for one spouse to legally adopt the other spouse?s biological children from a previous relationship. This is called second-parent adoption. This will help to avoid custody problems in the future if the biological parent passes away or the couple gets divorced.
The Illinois ?Human Rights Act? was enacted in 2005, and it has been extremely effective in protecting the rights of LBGTQ employees on the same exact terms as other groups. Unfortunately, Congress has not acted on the need for federal protections. To combat this, President Obama signed an executive order in July 2014 that prohibits employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors against LGBTQ employees. This order became effective April 8, 2015. Illinois is one of 18 states to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Hate Crime Protection
Since 1991, there has been hate crime legislation based on sexual orientation only. The law did not specifically protect against acts of violence based on gender identity, but gender identity cases could be prosecuted as sexual orientation cases since the state criminalizes attacks based on one?s perception of sexual orientation. On April 16, 2015, and May 20, 2015, the House and Senate passed House Bill 3930 to include the words ?gender identity? into the Illinois Crime Statutes. On July 20, 2015, the law was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner. It became effective on January 1, 2016.
Get Help from an Attorney
You deserve to have your rights protected, regardless of sexual orientation. If you are having any family law issues, consulting a knowledgeable attorney can help. At Sherer Law Offices, we can guide you through the legal steps you need to take to ensure your rights are protected.