Professor Berry this morning linked to a very interesting article [pdf] on the possible demise of DOMA by Jerry Simon Chasen (Attorney at Law, Miami, FL).
Within a four-week period last summer, three U.S. district court decisions were handed down that call into question the constitutional viability of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Because this law bars legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the 1,138 rights, benefits, and privileges extended to married couples under federal law—probably chief among which, for estate planners, are the unlimited marital deduction (when there is an estate tax) and the additional step up (when there is not)—the demise of this law would have a significant effect on planning for this population.
Yesterday, Monday, January 31st, Governor Quinn signed a bill legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples in Illinois. Though the state continues to define marriage as between a man a woman this bill will, according to this story in the Sun Times, provide over 650 spousal benefits and protections.
If you enter a civil union, you can now visit your loved one in the hospital to make medical decisions and not be turned away. You can take time off to care for your partner and not lose your job,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.
A nice primer on Illinois Civil Unions is available here at 10,000 Couples, which points out that although “civil unions are intended to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, you don’t have to be a same-sex couple in order to enter into a civil union.”
Thanks to Joel Shoenmeyer for getting the word out via his Death & Taxes Blog. (If you don’t read Joel’s blog you really should. He’s very focused on Illinois law and always succeeds at being both funny and informative.)