In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex couples all over the nation had the legal right to marry. Illinois was ahead of the curve - in 2011, the Illinois legislature signed the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, allowing couples of any sex to enter into a civil union.
Although civil unions were originally a way for same-sex couples to enter into a legally recognized partnership, they may be used for other reasons as well. Civil unions provide couples in Illinois the same legal rights as married couples, but they are not the same as a marriage. In this article, we will discuss the difference between marriages and civil unions, and why people might choose one or the other rather than simply living together.
Why Get a Civil Union Instead of a Marriage?
If couples who enter into a civil union have the same rights as married couples in Illinois, why not just get married? The primary difference between these two options is that civil unions are not recognized by the federal government. This mostly impacts a couple’s finances - a couple with a civil union can enjoy the same rights as a married couple on the state level, but retain the ability to file their federal taxes individually and potentially remain in a lower tax bracket. However, this means that couples in civil unions will also give up the financial benefits that can come from federal recognition of a marriage....