As Illinois began issuing civil union
licenses to gay, lesbian and straight couples on Wednesday,
Representative Greg Harris, the sponsor of the measure in the House,
reiterated that he'll back a gay marriage bill sometime in the
Long lines are expected at county
clerks' offices as Illinois becomes the fourth state to legalize the
union behind New Jersey, Hawaii and Delaware. (Other states,
including California, Washington and Nevada, offer similar benefits
to gay couples through domestic partnerships.)
Couples will each pay $35 for their
license and need to wait one day before holding a ceremony.
In Cook County, the first couple to
receive their license was Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins of
Clerk David Orr called the day
“I'm thrilled this day has finally
come,” Orr said in a statement. “This will be a joyous day for
all couples – gay and straight – who want to make history as part
of the inaugural group of civil unions.”
Twenty businesses donated gifts that
will be raffled off to couples waiting in line. All couples are
being invited to celebrate with cake and chocolate donated by Eli's
Cheesecake and Illinois Nut & Candy.
Opponents, however, were not
celebrating as the law came online.
Catholic Charities of Rockford is
its state-funded foster care and adoption services today in order
to avoid the possibility of being forced into placing a child with a
couple in a civil union. The law's start has also prompted opponents
to launch a petition drive to constitutionally
ban gay marriage in Illinois.
comments made to the Daily Herald, Representative Greg
Harris, the sponsor of the civil unions bill in the House, reiterated
his support for full marriage equality.
“I think we'll let this bill go into
effect, and [couples will] get their licenses, people will see that
plagues of frogs will not come down and the world will not end,”
Harris said. “In time, when it's the right time, I'll put in a
marriage equality bill.”