And the sky will FALL!

Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will sign into law the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.” The signing ceremony is planned for 4 p.m. central time today. Couples may begin obtaining civil unions and enjoying the state-level rights and responsibilities of married couples on June 1, 2011.

“Today marks a tremendous step towards equality for all families in Illinois,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “HRC commends Governor Quinn for his commitment to ensuring civil unions became law. Congratulations to Rep. Greg Harris, lead sponsor of the bill, who fought for years to ensure civil unions would become a reality, and thank you to Equality Illinois and the ACLU of Illinois for their tireless efforts on behalf of the LGBT community.”

The new law will permit both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Illinois law that are granted to spouses. Couples who enter into a civil union will not receive any rights or benefits under federal law. Illinois still does not permit same-sex couples to marry. The law explicitly allows religious entities to choose not to solemnize or officiate civil unions.