It started with no money, no formal organization, no staff – just a Facebook page “Students for the Illinois Marriage Equality Bill” – and over 8,000 student activists signed on. State Representative Greg Harris, an advocate of Civil Unions recognized that these self-organized, grassroots voices represented an important part of an activist movement to support his House Bill 1826, historic legislation to extend basic legal protections to committed opposite-sex, same-sex and senior couples in Illinois by creating civil unions. Now there is a website, www.CivilUnionsIllinois.org, created and inspired by those thousands of young people throughout Illinois who came together online to support equality and fairness for all dedicated couples in our state. Visit www.CivilUnionsIllinois.org and get involved!
Here are some real people House Bill 1826 would (or would have) changed the lives of if the bill became law:
- In New Berlin, IL, Pam V. “is a widow whose late husband Scott worked for the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, IL. Scott died as the result of a liver transplant leaving her with a college age son and pre-teen daughter to support. Pam currently receives Scott’s State of Illinois pension. Unfortunately, she would lose these pension benefits if she ever remarried.”
- In Springfield, IL, Larry was prevented by Emergency room staff from making “critical care decisions for his unconscious life partner when the hospital could not locate paperwork. This forced Larry to leave his partner’s bedside to go home to look for documents. While [Larry] searched for copies, his partner passed away.”
- In Champaign, IL, Lynn S. “struggled to care for her partner Linda as she battled a fatal liver disease. When Linda died, Lynn was denied the right to make arrangements for Linda’s cremation, despite their long, committed relationship.”
Many people do not know that opposite-sex, same-sex and senior couples in Illinois can be denied the basic right to collect pensions necessary to maintain their quality of life, or make emergency health care decisions for their partners, or visit their partners in hospitals, or share a nursing home room, or even to make funeral arrangements after a partner passes away. In many cases there aren’t clear legal procedures and laws to protect committed couples. That is wrong. Illinois can do better. You can help right now by sending a free, instant message to the legislature (Click Here To Make A Difference).
Over 8,000 young people took the time to make a difference. Shouldn’t you?