Gay couples anxious for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to sign into law a measure giving them many of the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples will have to wait a little while longer.
Quinn, who has promised to sign the civil unions legislation, said Friday he expects to hold a bill-signing ceremony early in the new year. After he signs it, the law will go into effect in June.
"The passage this week of the civil unions legislation was historic. It's a landmark law, it's headed my way and I think it will be the law of the land of Lincoln in the coming year,'' Quinn said at an unrelated news conference where he helped break ground on a new parking garage.
Civil unions would give heterosexual and gay couples many of the same rights as marriage -- for instance, the power to make medical decisions for a seriously ill partner.
Opponents of the Illinois legislation have criticized it as a move toward same-sex marriage. But Illinois law will continue to refer only to unions between men and women as "marriage," and federal law won't recognize civil unions between gay couples.
Quinn has repeatedly said the new law will help the Illinois economy and make businesses and other large gatherings like conventions want to bring their dollars to the state.
"When they're picking a convention for their particular organization, I think they look for a state that is a welcoming, accepting, hospitable place and that's what we are in Illinois. We have everybody in and nobody left out," he said.