More than 30 same-sex couples marked the first day of civil unions in Illinois by taking vows in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park Thursday morning.
“For me it means a lot — making this commitment. But I also feel like we’re part of history here,” Shanelle Moffett told the Chicago Sun-Times as she prepared for the ceremony with her partner, Tenisha Watkins.
Couples could obtain civil union licenses beginning Wednesday at county clerk’s offices, but there was a one-day waiting period before ceremonies could take place. The Illinois civil unions law offers same-sex and opposite-sex couples the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage.
While couples all over the state were taking advantage of the new law, the biggest event was in Chicago, the largest city in Illinois and home to the state’s largest and most visible gay population. At Millennium Park Thursday, judges and one minister presided over ceremonies, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus performed, and Illinois governor Pat Quinn and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the gathering.
I know I address the issue of equality a lot on this blog. When I began it, I never knew civil rights would be such a “front and center” issue for me here. But it’s been a natural evolution for me, and I realize how important equal rights are for everyone in this country.
Getting married in California – Michael and I are one of the 18,000 couples that got to keep our legal marriage status – was more powerful than I ever dreamed it would be. When you grow up in this country and realize you are gay, marriage equality is something you don’t dream to be a reality. But it is today. At least in some states. And I believe we will someday soon see marriage equality across the entire country. It’s just fair and right.
So celebrate for the kids in Illinois today taking their step forward. It’s a good thing.