Chicago, IL -
Gov. Pat Quinn will be attending a celebration of the first day of civil unions ceremonies in Illinois as the City of Chicago will host 30 civil union ceremonies on Thursday, June 2 at Millennium Park.
The city's Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues is hosting the event, which begins at 10 a.m. in Wrigley Square at Millennium Park, Randolph Street and Michigan Ave.
"Civil unions are long overdue in Illinois. They provide important protections for couples and their families," said Commissioner Dana V. Starks. "We are proud to celebrate this achievement."
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, first introduced by Representative Greg Harris in March 2007, and in the Illinois Senate by Senator David Koehler, passed by a 61-vote majority in the House and a 32-vote majority in the Senate.
Gov. Quinn signed the the civil unions legislation into law on January 31 during a ceremony in downtown Chicago, making Illinois the sixth state to allow civil unions. The law also includes provisions for hospital visitation and healthcare decision making.
"This event highlights a small sample of the many families across Illinois that are provided protections, rights, and responsibilities under Illinois's new law," said Jim Bennett, Regional Director for the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal.
All 30 couples participating on June 2 will obtain a civil union license from the Cook County Clerk's office on June 1, the first day that civil union licenses can be obtained at any County Clerk's office. By law, couples must wait until the day after they obtain their license to have their civil union ceremony performed.
Cook County Clerk David Orr, the Hon. Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and members of the Alliance of Illinois Judges will officiate the civil union ceremonies.
The event is co-sponsored by The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois
, and the Alliance of Illinois Judges.
"What a terrific way for the City of Chicago to ring in civil unions. Having dozens of couples celebrate their love and commitment literally surrounded by the entire city is such a powerful symbol for how far we have come as a society," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.