Illinois and Hawaii Set to Become Latest States to Approve Same-Sex Marriage

Recent actions taken by the legislatures of both Illinois and Hawaii have these states poised to become the 15th and 16th states respectively to legalize same-sex marriage.

As we previously reported,  New Jersey has approved same-sex marriage after Governor Chris Christie said he’d no longer oppose the court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the Garden State.  In the cases of Illinois and Hawaii, both state legislatures took action –in Hawaii’s instance during a special session of the state legislature called by Governor Neil Abercrombie. The Hawaiian state senate voted 20-4 to approve same-sex marriage and on Friday, November 9 the house voted 30-19 to approve. A house-senate reconciled version is expected to pass Tuesday November 12 and the measure will then go to the governor for signature. The law is expected to go into effect on December 2, 2013.

Illinois’s house passed their same-sex marriage law by 61-54 – just one vote over the margin needed to pass. The Illinois senate had also previously passed the law and they quickly approved the house version. The governor has promised to sign the bill into law with an effective date in June 2014.

Assuming both states’ same-sex marriage laws go into full effect, Illinois same-sex couples who might be in civil unions and Hawaii couples who may be in domestic partnerships or civil unions may now plan on marrying either in their states or in any of the 14 other states that already allow same-sex marriage. The key element in both cases is that in order to receive federal recognition of their marriages, these couples must take all the required steps to legally marry – their civil unions and partnerships do not carry them over into married status.

Hawaiian and Illinois same-sex couples who do decide to get married will automatically earn all federal marriage benefits and obligations – including potentially significant changes in their taxes. These couples should carefully consider the impact of marriage not only in terms of taxes but with regard to estates and trusts, health insurance coverage, and retirement planning  among many other items, and should seek the counsel of their professional advisors.

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