Illinois Gets Civil Unions, Life-Threatening Snowstorms

In front of a thousand-strong crowd at the Chicago Cultural Center, Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn signed civil unions legislation today. He referred to the state being “the land of Lincoln” and then totally one-upped the Lincolnosity of the event by quoting Abraham Lincoln who said, “We’re a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and it shall not perish from the earth.”

This makes Illinois the sixth state to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships. The other five are Oregon, Nevada, Washington, New Jersey and California. Five states currently offer full marriage rights: Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).

Greg Harris, the gay state representative who sponsored the bill, reminded everyone that civil unions were a step forward but not the final goal, which is obviously marriage equality. “There is more work to be done,” he said. “Things can get better.” I feel like “it gets better” is going to become a viral catchphrase of this decade or maybe it already is. Anyhow.

Starting June 1, same-sex couples will be able to get a civil union certificate at their county clerk’s office, which should enable them to get the same legal treatment of heterosexual spouses under Illinois laws. This includes 650 state rights, benefits and protections currently inaccessible to gay families.

Equality Illinois says: “Today’s signing is not the end of the fight. State Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago), one of two openly gay members of the General Assembly, reiterated in an interview Friday that she and her partner can still not marry in their home state and will travel to Iowa for that right. The civil unions bill is a proud moment in Illinois, but it is also a reminder that more is needed before equality is achieved.”

This historic day comes just in time for the life-threatening blizzard to arrive and immediately slaughter the Chicago area with hyperbolic windstorm vocabulary of epic stormy freezing cold dangerous blustery impenetrable unstoppable strength, power and venom. A blizzard warning remains in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday in several counties and should begin Tuesday right around noon. The National Weather Service is calling the pending blizzard life-threatening.

So! Back to the ceremony, Deb Mell, Illinois’ other openly gay state legislature member, talked about how being out and telling the story of her relationship with her fiancée, Christin Baker, was “one of the most powerful things we could do.” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said “I hope that other states will join us and I hope the federal government will join us as well. Full equality is not too much to ask for.”

[SPEAKING OF… against that end, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers signed onto a brief supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and allows states to reject other states’ definitions of marriage! In 2006, Colorado voters passed Amendment 43, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman]

Also, Britney Spears was a bridesmaid at her friend’s gay wedding this weekend, just fyi.

[Front page thumbnail photo via]

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. Yes, and the news caster spent 5 seconds on civil unions and then said on to bigger news… lovely bassackwards IL.

  2. Pingback: Daily News » Illinois allows civil unions for same-sex couples – Reuters

  3. I was having a “well it’s better than nothing” and generally feeling okay about the whole situation, but then I made the mistake we all make. I read the comments at the end of the article.

    Now I’m just bitter and I have that tiny gay leprechaun screaming in my head, “WHY THE FUCK DOES ANYONE GET TO VOTE ON MY FUCKING RIGHTS?”. He’s also waving a shilelagh around violently.

    I wish Taylor would make a picture to go with that.

  4. my friends are getting married in april so they will be happy about this…. my job all ready recognized domestic partnership and if i had a girl i could have already put her on my insurance LOL!!! and bout this storm, is already getting colder and the wind is picking up =( im gonna need a cuddle buddy for this one! LOL!!!

  5. So glad Illinois made it almost kind of sort of legal. My fiancee and I plan on moving there once i graduate (chicago, of course). And Missouri is getting pummeled by the blizzard too. Work has already been cancelled! and Mizzou called school off, which is unheard of!

  6. I hope to see Nevada go all the way and make same sex marriage legal. Although this is unlikely one can still hope.

  7. This is great news considering it could easily have been Bill Brady in office instead of Pat Quinn. Also, I don’t know if there’s a world record for this but the AP says he used 97 pens to sign this bill into law.

    • Hahahaha, what?! 97 pens? WHAT DOES IT MEAN

      I know Quinn is not the most popular guy around but I really like him; I guess he just has a knack of supporting the issues that I care a lot about (bike/transportation stuff, gay stuff) and hardly any other voters care much about. Out of all the viable candidates for governor of a state like this, I think he’s about as good as we could get.

      (Also I kind of have a crush on Deb Mell.)

  8. My mom was at the signing! Singing in the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Yes, my mother is a member of a gay men’s chorus. It’s a long story.

    • Long stories are worthwhile in this case. I assume your mother is not a gay man; ergo, I am extremely curious to find out why she is in a gay men’s chorus.

      • Actually, it’s not *that* long of a story, it’s just funnier to say it that way. ;)

        Mom’s got a pretty low range – she usually sings Alto 2, which is the lowest women’s part. However, she took some vocal lessons and managed to extend her range, and can now sing Tenor 1 (highest men’s part) to Soprano 2 (second-highest women’s part). And then she auditioned for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. I guess there was already another lady singing Tenor 1 in there? And now there she is. :3

        • I’m an Alto 2! We used to double the tenors in my choir.

          New aspiration: be in a gay men’s chorus. :)

  9. Re: weather, Northern Indiana is probably going to get the worst of it. I go to Notre Dame. We’re fucked. 2 feet of snow for Tuesday night. Hopefully they cancel school Wednesday.

    I’m stocked up on the important things: wine, rum, cookies, bacon.

    • Marika, I was going to say congrats on your priorities (and rearrange a tiny bit your list) when I thought BACON COOKIES. Is that a thing? I need it to be a thing.

      • Bacon cookies are a thing. Bacon chocolate chip cookies. I have heard of them but never tasted. DAMN.

    • Dude, I go to Butler (in Indianapolis), and rather than a snow storm, we have been graced with ice. I’ve been watching my neighbors use hammers to de-ice their cars all morning. HAMMERS. I feel like that has potential to be a poor life decision, but alas, over a solid inch of ice isn’t exactly easy to pound through. Also, sounds like we’re supposed to get more, soooo… Why bother?

      It’s okay though… I just built a pretty bitchin’ blanket fort to occupy my time. This is gonna be the best Snowpocalypse/Icepocalypse EVERRRR. Just sayin’.

  10. Pingback: Autostraddle — Illinois Gets Civil Unions, Life-Threatening Snowstorms | Just Gay Men

  11. The optimistic part of me is all, “Yay for civil unions and rights and rainbows!” …Meanwhile, the cynical side of me is just waiting for some fundamentalist-religious nutjob to link the signing to the blizzard and prophesy that it’s God punishing the heathen homosexual mecca of Chicago for its sin.

    Still, glad I voted for Quinn last time around.

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