On June 1, 2011, Illinois became the latest state to enact a civil unions measure allowing some legal rights for gay and lesbian couples. The gained rights include hospital visitation, the ability to make emergency medical decisions, adoption and inheritance rights. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the civil unions into law in January.

“Today is an important day in the history of our state because today we are showing the world that the people of Illinois believe in equality for all,” Quinn said at the time. “We look forward to individuals and businesses from across the country choosing to move to Illinois where we believe that everyone is entitled to the same rights.”

Illinois is now one of six states that offer civil unions to same-sex couples in place of marriage rights. Gay couples are currently allowed to marry in five states — Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut — and the District of Columbia.

Illinois begins allowing civil unions

The new law has prompted several Catholic-affiliated charity groups to cease their adoption efforts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Catholic Charities in Peoria, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockford and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet have suspended processing applications over objections to the new rights allowed to same-sex couples.