Civil Unions Legalized in Illinois Gov. Quinn: 'We believe in civil rights' By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Jan 31, 2011 10:47 PM CST 20 comments Comments Illinois Gov Pat Quinn holds up the signed civil unions bill during ceremonies Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) (Newser) – Illinois has become the sixth state to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples. A bill signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn Monday afternoon gives gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, including the right to visit a loved one in hospital, the Chicago Tribune reports. The measure was narrowly approved by state lawmakers during their lame-duck session last month. "For us it means our marriage will be recognized by the state of Illinois as something other than just living together and sharing a mortgage," said a woman who married her partner in Massachusetts, one of the five states where gay marriage is legal. "On a larger scale, it's one more step toward equality."