SPRINGFIELD - The urgency Illinois gay rights community is conveying to the Illinois General Assembly about the need to legalize not only civil unions - for same and/or opposite sex couples - but to also legalize same-sex marriages could be rooted in finances.
In a recent letter to its Illinois clients, the ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company defined the financial differences between civil unions and same sex marriages per Illinois law and how the company sees they are to interpret it concerning their products. The letter spells out how Illinois' civil union act - "the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act" - affects their clients' assets and how the federal Defense of Marriage Act ties the company's hands in distribution and tax policy.
When 260 pastors from liberal mainstream denominations throughout Illinois signed onto backing a same sex marriage bill last week, one pastor said,"“A civil union is kind of like a business partnership — which a marriage is in reality — but there are people who consider a marriage to be something divine and holy."
Catholics consider marriage as a sacrament - a form of worship. Evangelicals and conservative denominations hold to the Biblical, traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Those strong religious convictions are likely to have affected polling that says a majority of Illinoisans believe same sex marriage should not be legalized.
ING's letter to their clients -
Dear Valued Client,
The following disclosure is required to be provided to you. Our records indicate that you are either a current resident of Illinois, or an owner of an annuity contract issued in the state of Illinois.
Effective June 1, 2011, for contracts issued in Illinois, ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company is in compliance with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act ("the Act") to the extent allowed pursuant to the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 ("DOMA").
The Act provides that civil union couples, as defined in the Act, are entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits that are afforded or recognized by the laws of Illinois to spouses in a marriage. Under DOMA, however, certain favorable federal tax treatment available to opposite-sex spouses is not available to same-sex spouses or partners in a civil union, e.g. spousal continuation. If you are a same-sex spouse or civil union partner, we suggest that you consult with a tax advisor prior to purchasing an annuity contract, such as this one, which provides spousal benefits.
You have any questions...
Thus, the company says, whether same sex marriage is legalized in Illinois or not, federal tax policy for married couples is dictated by federal law - specifically the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. Unless DOMA is overturned, only state tax policy and financial laws will be affected by legalizing same sex marriage in Illinois.