It’s far from marriage, but civil unions became legal today in the state of Illinois, allowing gay couples throughout the state to legally establish their relationships. While it’s a momentous day, I’m sure many other Illinoisans share my sense of bittersweetness for the amount of time it has taken for this to happen in our state — more than 10 years after civil unions became legal in the state of Vermont.
This morning I followed the tweets and updates of my local newspaper, The Rockford Register Star, as they reported bright and early from the county clerk’s office on the very first civil unions to be granted in my county. I was particularly excited to hear updates from local couple Dan Ford and Mike Wright, owners of the local gay-friendly nightclub The Office, who were featured in a Register Star story back in January when it was first announced that civil unions had been legalized. The couple, who have been together for 29 years, said in the January article that they had every intention of being the first in the county to be granted a civil union, and it definitely brightened my morning to see they did exactly that.
What’s even more encouraging (though it’s disheartening I even considered this as a possibility) is that there were zero protesters staked out at the county clerk’s office. Could that change as more residents realize civil unions are happening here? Yes, absolutely. But even facebook has recognized civil unions, adding “in a civil union” to their list of possible relationship statuses — that’s gotta mean something to some of the backwards residents of my county.
So for today, I’m celebrating. Congratulations to all those who took the plunge and legalized their relationships.