For over thirty years, child-related issues of unmarried parents had been governed by the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984. However, on July 21, 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Parentage Act of 2015 (the “Act”) into law, which revamped the old version by updating outdated terminology and concepts. These changes mirror the changes in families and culture over the course of the last three decades.
As a brief summary of some of these changes reflected in developments in Illinois law, on June 1, 2011, Illinois established civil unions that allowed same-sex, as well as opposite-sex couples to form unions that were recognized by the state. Then on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the United States Constitution allowed for same-sex couples to marry. The Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, was unconstitutional in that it defined marriage as between one man and one woman. See United States vs. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013).
On June 1, 2014 a law took effect that allowed for same-sex marriage in Illinois, and Illinois became one of thirty-seven other states and the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage. The Illinois General Assembly had proposed same-sex marriage legislation every session from 2007 to 2013, however it was not until November 2013 that the law was passed. Between November 2013 and the effective date, a court ruled that same-sex couples in Cook County could marry immediately and need not wait for June, which was later extended to other counties. Parties that had previously entered into a civil union were also able to convert their civil unions in to marriages without a new ceremony or paying a separate fee within the first year. If the union was converted in that time period, the date of the marriage would be retroactive to the date of the civil union. Now, both same-sex civil unions and marriage are legal in Illinois.