The Federal Reserve Bank was the place to be April 5, as members of the LGBT community gathered at the venue's conference room to hear about the recently passed civil-unions act and ask questions.
Chris Malonepresident of the bank's employee-support group, 7FLAG, 7th District Friends of Lesbians and Gaysopened the informal meeting, and introduced the two guest speakers: Bernard Cherkasov and Jill Metz. Cherkasov, the CEO of Equality Illinois, talked with listeners about the grueling fight to get the act passed.
The act, which takes effect June 1, was first presented to state legislators in 2007. Cherkasov explained that asking for a civil-unions act instead of a marriage law would be the better route because of the sense of "urgency" for those in the LGBT community to get the legal rights.
Metzan attorney with her own firm, Jill M. Metz and Associates, who is also president of the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinoisexplained the legal benefits the civil-unions act will provide and took questions from listeners. She said that the act affords same-sex unions the same rights and protections that married couples receive, including medical decision making, and the fact that income earned by either person in the relationship belongs to both members of the union. In addition, children born to parents in a same-sex union will be the children of both parents. This is important because couples had to file for second-parent adoption.
Metz cautioned listeners that even though the civil-unions act seems like a "dream come true," couples should still file for second-parent adoption and a civil-union certificate. The act is only recognized on a state level ( not federal ) ; therefore, couples cannot get social security for one another or file a joint federal tax return. If one member of the union is in the military, the civil-union certificate as grounds for discharge. Also, said certificates can complicate the adoption process.
Couples interesting in obtaining a civil-union certificate and license can go down to their local county clerk's office June 1 and obtain both documents. A license only last 60 days; during that time a couple needs to stand in front of a retired or working judge and have their marriage recognized.
7FLAG, Harris Bank's Lions Pride employee support network group, Price Waterhouse Coopers and the United Way sponsored the event.