Springfield, Illinois has unanimously approved an ordinance to grant health benefits to dependents of employees inside of civil unions. In September 2011, the Joint Labor/Management Insurance Committee, a committee of the city council, voted to deny health benefits to couples in civil unions. That decision was reversed in 2012 after pressure from The Civil Rights Agenda and several City Council members including Alderman Cory Jobe.
After that vote, Bruce Rushton, a reporter for the Illinois Times tried to claim that the Committee had violated the Open Meetings Act and a Judge ruled that the decision by the Committee was void and invalid. Aldermans Jobe, Doris Turner, and Sam Cahnman along with Mayor Mike Houston sponsored the ordinance that went through today.
Anthony Martinez, the Executive Director of TCRA, said “We are very pleased with the outcome of this vote. This vote is a long time coming, and finally brings Springfield inline with the Illinois civil union law. We have been working on this for almost a year and a half and we are happy that the council has chosen to finally make the right decision. We are aware of three couples in civil union that have requested access to the benefits and they will now be able to access the benefits without having to take legal action against the city.
He went on to say “This entire issue further illustrates why civil unions are a discriminatory institution and not the same as marriage. There would be no question of whether to grant these benefits to same-sex couples if they were married. The council wouldn’t have to grant the benefits, they would just be given to the couples. We hope that this issue reminds the Illinois General Assembly why they need to pass the equal marriage legislation that will be filed tomorrow and will be considered by the next General Assembly. The time for equal marriage in Illinois is now.”