Small step for LGBT rights


By Drew Veskauf

Gay couples in Illinois can join together in civil unions since June 1, but to some members of the NIU community, this step forward for gay rights is a small one.

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, passed in January and effective in June, guarantees couples in civil unions the same rights as married couples such as hospital visitation, adoption and inheritance rights.

Molly Holmes, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center, said that this is a step in the right direction.

“The overall feeling about it is a positive one,” Holmes said. “Over the summer there was a lot of celebration.”

Even though the effect is statewide, the rights afforded by the act will not be recognized by other states who have not adopted a civil union act, Holmes said.

“The downside is that it is not fully equal across the nation,” Holmes said.

Federal law does not recognize same-sex couples as a legal union.

Khaled Ismail, junior political science major, said the passage of the bill is offensive because only some rights are given to members of the LGBT community.

“I do recognize that it is a step,” Ismail said. “Nevertheless, it’s an offensive step.”

Illinois is one of 13 states that have civil union laws for same sex couples.

“There’s more work to go in terms of full recognition by law,” Holmes said. “[The LGBT community gets] to see history in the making.”