Patrick Bora, 73 (left), and his partner Jim Darby, 79, show their civil union license at the Cook County Office of Vital Records, Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in Chicago.

Illinois has joined a handful of states and the District of Columbia in providing for civil unions, which give same-sex couples many of the rights and significant legal protections that are afforded to traditionally married men and women. That includes the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner’s property. To read more click here.

To see a listing of states that provide for same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnership, click here.