CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today celebrated marriage equality in Illinois by attending the wedding of James Darby and Patrick Bova during a day of ceremonies at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago. The Governor announced yesterday that marriage equality is now in effect, allowing all couples in Illinois the ability to receive the rights and protections of marriage. The new law is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.
“Three years ago to this very day I witnessed Jim and Patrick’s special ceremony as they joined in civil union,” Governor Quinn said. “Now I’m honored to be in attendance as they take the sacred vow of marriage. We worked hard to make this day possible but we never lost hope that love would prevail in the Land of Lincoln. Today we celebrate full marriage equality for all couples across Illinois.”
James and Patrick have been together for 50 years. Their wedding is one of several ceremonies planned during a day of festivities at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago in celebration of the new law. The MCA opened its galleries and sculpture garden for the private wedding ceremonies and post-ceremony receptions.
Governor Quinn led the charge for marriage equality and signed the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act on November 20, 2013, making Illinois the 16th state in the nation to embrace full marriage equality. The law is officially in effect as of June 1, allowing every couple in Illinois, regardless of gender, equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities of marriage.
Governor Quinn first called for marriage equality in May 2012 and made it a top legislative priority, featuring it in his 2013 State of the State address. In November, the Governor signed the historic bill in front of thousands at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s UIC Forum. James and Patrick were also in attendance at the historic signing.
In addition to equal access benefits and protections, current provisions in the Affordable Care Act require all insurance companies to offer the coverage to all couples, regardless of their gender. This means that all married couples and their children can now enroll in a plan together in Illinois and may qualify for financial help on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Marriage and other qualifying life events may allow couples to get coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace through a Special Enrollment Period, but they must enroll in a plan within 60 days of the marriage or other life event. A Special Enrollment Period also allows residents to make changes to their current plan, like adding a spouse and children, changing carriers, and possibly getting financial help. To learn more about coverage options or to find free in-person help visit GetCoveredIllinois.gov or call 866-311-1119 Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In 2011, the Governor signed into law historic civil union legislation. For the more than 6,000 couples across Illinois who have joined in a civil union, the law also allows the ability to convert a civil union to marriage and make the marriage date retroactive to the date of the civil union. When applying for a Special Enrollment Period, residents are asked to use the date their civil union was converted to a marriage.