New laws passed by the General Assembly will impact LGBTQ rights in Illinois. The first three mentioned are effective July 27 of this year.
The first law amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Now, a person who once upon a time got married may request their marriage certificate be made free of any gender-identifying language. Such requests shall not permanently change the gender-identifying language in the clerk’s records, but the request and reissuance shall be kept in the permanent records of the clerk.
The law also provides that if two parties currently married (to each other) request their marriage certificate with gender identifiers be changed, the county clerk must do so.
A second law dealing with marriage certificates also requires county clerks in Illinois to issue new marriage certificates upon the request of one of the parties involved so as to reflects any new legal name change of the person in question. The marriage had to have taken place in Illinois and the requestor has to provide documentation of their name change.
A third law is a repeal of those laws which previously criminalized certain conduct of those with HIV.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is communicable through the exchange of body fluid. It can cause one’s immune system to be debilitated, thereby leading to more infections and possibly death.
While there is no cure for the virus, there are medications which may allow persons to live long, healthy lives and prevent its transmission.
Prior to this repeal of those criminalizing laws, persons with HIV were prohibited from consensual sex.
Harsher penalties were also provided for under otherwise ordinarily minor crimes — like sharing drug injection equipment.
Persons with HIV were also subject to prosecution and incarceration even if they did not transmit HIV to another person and if they could not prove they disclosed their HIV status. Also, longer prison sentences could be imposed simply because of their HIV status.
Critics of the laws criminalizing the conduct of HIV carriers argue that no study in the U.S. has shown that criminalizing such conduct related to HIV has reduced its transmission. Thus, such laws are arbitrarily discriminatory. Over two dozen states still make it a crime to transmit the virus.
A fourth law deals with employers’ group insurance policies providing pregnancy benefits and coverage. On group policies of employers with more than 25 employees, the new law requires such insurance carriers to expand coverage for infertility treatments to include same-sex couples, women over 35 single persons, and those who cannot get pregnant naturally due to a medical reason.
Currently, coverage requirements are limited in scope, protecting infertility treatments for women under the age of 35 who are unable to become pregnant after one year of trying, women over 35 who are unable to become pregnant after six months, and women who are unable to conceive without medical intervention.
The public policy behind this legislation of insurance policies is aimed at being more inclusive for LGBTQ families, single parents and women over 35. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Brett Kepley is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. Send questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820.