Civil union licenses are being issued in Illinois today: “It’s historic”

Big day in Illinois. Same-sex couples can now obtain legal protections from the state through the new civil unions law. Still not full equality, but a step in the right direction:

Illinois has issued its first civil union license, launching a historic day for same-sex couples across the state.

Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris camped overnight outside the Daley Center to be the first in line as the state’s new civil unions law kicked in.

“It’s historic,” said Watkins, who has been with Harris for 10 years. “We wanted to be first. We wanted to make a statement. For us, for our kids. It really means something.”

The couple has six children who will all be in attendance at a formal civil union ceremony tomorrow.

Watkins and Harris were followed by more than 100 other couples who arrived early to get licenses.

Congrats to all those (same-sex and straight) couples who are getting civil unions.

And, there’s an excellent explanation of what the new civil unions law does — and doesn’t do — for same-sex couples at 10,000 Couples. It’s written by Jill Metz, who is President of the Board of the ACLU of Illinois. Here’s how it concludes:

Civil unions are not a magic wand that will remove all prejudice and discrimination. Nor do the laws that apply to civil unioned couples provide the most comprehensive legal protections. They only provide some safety net. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, and second parent adoptions provide the most comprehensive legal protections, even for people in a civil union.

That said, civil unions are a huge and important step in protections and toward ending prejudice and discrimination.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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