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Elections Over, Illinois Tackles Hot Items

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) - The threat of a pending election over, Illinois' lame-duck Legislature tackled the controversial issues of gay civil unions, abolition of the death penalty abolition and medical marijuana - all in the same day.

The Illinois House on Tuesday narrowly approved a measure allowing gay civil unions and a House committee voted to abolish the state's death penalty. Lawmakers rejected a bill to legalize the use of medical marijuana, which had been approved by the Senate.

The civil union bill would allow couples, regardless of gender, to claim "the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses."

Critics said the law is a slippery slope and would lead to the eventual passage of sex-sex marriage. The bill passed 62-52.

A House committee voted to abolish capital punishment. Illinois has imposed a temporary ban on executions since 2000, after 13 men on Death Row were found to be innocent.

Supporters of the ban say the cash-strapped state is wasting millions of dollars on legal safeguards for what has become a hypothetical sentence. Critics argued that the committee has pushed this issue through quickly to avoid a full debate on the House floor. The measure still needs to be voted on by the full House.

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