Illinois is now the 6th state to allow civil unions for gay couples in the United States. After a long fight, many same-sex couples took to the court houses to get married and obtain their civil union licenses, a step towards gaining rights similar to straight married couples! Many couples had been waiting for years as they saw states such as Vermont and cities such as Washington D.C. legalize the unions. Some gay and lesbian couples feel they should wait until gay marriage is recognized at the national level to get married, discounting the already existing domestic partnerships and civil unions that exist in the other five states. Others feel LGBT couples should take the move forward, and show politicians that allowing more civil unions are a step in the right direction.
Couples who presented for the first day of civil unions were welcomed by the county clerk’s offices throughout Illinois. While not entirely the same as a legal marriage between a man and a woman, many gay and lesbian couples are hopeful they will be able to at least be able to gain the right to be present with their partner in a time of sickness, be able to make medical decisions in a time of crisis, and a sleuth of other rights straight married couples have.
One lesbian couple, together for more than 10 years, Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris literally slept outside of their nearest clerk’s office in Cook County, Illinois, anxiously waiting for the law to take effect. Among the first in line to apply for the relationship title of civil union, Watkins commented:
“We wanted to be first. We wanted to make a statement. For us, for our kids. It really means something.”
While heterosexual couples may have tied the knot long ago, Watkins and Harris were unable to do so.
A relationship is based on love, mutual respect, and the traditions that you form with each other. The institution of marriage is full of traditions, traditions that many gay and lesbian couples are not privy to because their relationships are not recognized. Hopefully with time, states will begin to realize that allowing couples in the gay and lesbian community to marry will only better our country, bringing more families together, legally, emotionally, and physically.
Do you know or love a couple that is seeking a civil union in Illinois?
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