The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act gives couples in a civil union the same rights, benefits, and legal responsibilities as married couples (P.A. 96-1513 02/01/11). A "civil union" under the act is defined as the legal relationship between two persons, of either the same or opposite sex.
A civil union is prohibited if it is:
• Entered into before both parties attain 18 years of age
• Entered into before the dissolution of a marriage or civil union or substantially similar legal relationship of one of the parties
• Between an ancestor and a descendent or between siblings, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption
• Between an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption
• Between first cousins
Officials authorized to certify civil unions include a judge of a court of record or the court of claims, the Cook County clerk, a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, and an officiant in good standing acting in accordance with the prescriptions of his or her religious denomination.
Under the law, a civil union partner is included in any definition or use of the terms "spouse," "family," "immediate family," "dependent," "next of kin," and other terms that denote the spousal relationship, as those terms are used throughout state laws.