Civil unions are set for legalization in Illinois, with the governor saying he’d sign legislation approved yesterday by state legislators, the New York Times reports. Five states and DC now allow gay marriage, while New Jersey and Illinois, starting in July, will give same-sex couples rights comparable to those of married couples. “Sober, clear-minded, cautious Midwesterners are taking this action,” says an Illinois gay-rights activist.
Others were concerned that the move had been made before new legislators take office—though both legislative chambers will remain Democratic. “This will be the entry to a slippery slope,” says a Republican state rep. “The next thing we’ll see will be consideration of gay marriage.” The legislation divided lawmakers, passing the state Senate 32 to 24 and the state House 61 to 52.