Tag Archives: illinois

Civil Unions Now! Wait, what?

So awhile back on this blog I went to Springfield to lobby for Civil Unions. You’ll notice in the post that my argument for CU was largely “it changes the map”. And look! Look at the map! Now Illinois also gets to be shaded in (lightly).

Same-Sex Marriage Laws U.S.

Yep, the Illinois law takes effect June 1, which totally coincidentally and not on purpose means that our marriage gets recognized as a civil union in Illinois. We don’t have to file any extra paperwork or register or anything. Just as Illinois automatically understands that straight marriages performed elsewhere are marriages, now they’ll grant that gay marriages performed elsewhere (and civil unions performed in other civil-uniony states) are civil unions.

There’s mixed reaction to this news. On the whole, it’s a positive step. Politically, it changes the map. Practically, it offers a lot more security for couples and families. Personally, it helps me get better health insurance!

On the other hand, it is a newly invented classification to keep same-sex couples out of traditional marriage. It offers an equivalent system of legal rights and benefits under a big sign that says “You’re Still Too Different From Us”. So, if Lindsey and I weren’t getting married in Iowa, we probs wouldn’t be getting civil unioned in Illinois*. We don’t have shared property or frail health or children or much else to make the incentives of civil unions worth the annoyance of them existing. Not too mention civil unions are sooo five years ago. Marriage equality is in this spring.

*Btw, you can read about our and other couples’ feelings on this matter in the June 9 issue of TimeOut Chicago. They’re doing a story on just this topic.

As always, you can help change this! If you’re in Chicago, you should come to the Rally to Repeal DOMA on Saturday June 11. It’s in Boystown, so you can support some community engagement before going out for different community engagement. Also, slim chance I might be speaking at the rally. So it might also be an excellent chance to see me be really, really nervous.
And if you’re not in Chicago, people do this everywhere. Find them and get involved.

Another Day of Decision

In November, 2008, residents of California voted to pass Proposition 8, effectively halting same-sex marriages in the state.

The measure’s passage catalyzed a nation-wide movement of protests. From Wyoming to New Hampshire, Florida to Minnesota, in groups from 12 to 1,200, the LGBTQA community stood up and declared love valid. Meanwhile, the 10,000 or more same-sex couples married in California waited for the California Courts to determine the status of their relationship.

In May, 2009, the state Supreme Court ruling came down and the community again stood up. The Supreme Court validated the passage of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California. The thousands of already married couples remain married, an odd reminder of California’s one-time tolerance. Rallies again spread out over the country. Here is a video from Chicago’s rally on that “Day of Decision” last March:

That Chicago rally was organized by Join the Impact Chicago. (Join the Impact was the original netroots-to-grassroots organizers of the Prop 8 protests.) The Prop 8 case has moved through various legal wranglings since then, and was debated in federal court as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. This excellent FAQ can help with the case particulars in a quick read.

JTIC is organizing once more.

Today, Judger Walker, a U.S. District Court judge in California, will issue his ruling in the Proposition 8 lawsuit. This is a federal opinion. Today. At 6pm, Wednesday, August 3, 2010 in Daley Plaza, Chicagoans of all stripes, of all backgrounds, from every part of our rainbow alphabet, will rally in opposition to Prop 8 and in support of legal recognition for queer partnerships.

Chicago, IL (FB event): At Daley Plaza
Champaign, IL: At Alma Mater Statue
Madison, WI: At Johnson and State
Cleveland, OH: At Bounce/Union Station
Ohio City, OH: At Union Station
Tulsa, OK: At 621 E 4th St
Rex Wockner has more, of course. (big ol’ h/t to A. Crain for the links on these sister rallies!)

Party A and Party B

On Friday, Lindsey and I hosted our 1 Mile March for Equality (links to photos and videos at that page; more coming later). It was a terrific event.

We arrived at the Rock Island County Clerk’s office to a a flurry of activity. About a dozen friends came out to support us for the day, as well as Lindsey’s mom and brother. The Quad City Times (Davenport) as well as the Argus-Dispatch (Rock Island & Moline) sent reporters and photographers to cover the event. This was startling and gratifying, because as anyone who has ever invited press knows, you’re usually sending those press releases out into the ether. Our modest group was packed with rainbow flags and signs.

I said this then, and I’ll say it again: Lindsey and I have been beyond blessed by the support and love we’ve received throughout our five years together. We heard from dozens of friends and family members who couldn’t come, encouraging us for this event.

The event went as planned. We all walked in the Illinois office and presented our completed application. We were politely, if nervously, turned down, “Illinois doesn’t recognize marriage for same-sex couples.” The whole group of us walked to the Centennial Bridge. We got a lot of positive reactions from cars going by, and only a couple of negative ones. No one threw anything at us. The Iowa office welcomed us, and in a surreally-overphotographed moment, Lindsey handed in our form and we signed our names. Her brother Patrick acted as our legal witness, as Lindsey had for his marriage license. Ten minutes later, they printed our documents and we’re officially Party A and Party B. (Iowa allows you to check you choice of Bride, Groom, or Spouse on your license application, but both participants are legally Party A and Party B. Identifying your gender is optional; we did so that the Recorder’s Office can quantify the impact of equal marriage in Iowa. Yay statistics.)

Back in Rock Island, a few people watched the documentary which inspired this march, Heartland Transport, and then we discussed the state of marriage in Illinois, Iowa, and the country.

Lindsey’s mother spoke up a little. Lindsey’s mother has moved from unsure about this whole relationship to showing up at protest marches. This woman is amazing. Please, come out to your friends and family. They can surprise you. She spoke a moment on how it’s hard to come out as an ally, hard to talk about how her daughter is gay without being all “This is Lindsey, my gay daughter”, how it’s sometimes hard to see how visible and out she and I are. But then she said, “But I always taught them to speak up if something’s not fair.”

We need to keep up the movement. If you left a comment on one of our Facebook pages, if you read the page here at the blog, if you read the newspaper or saw it on the news, if you told your friends about your friends getting married in Iowa: do something to help. Call your Senator, call your State Reps, ask them about equal marriage in the country or in your state. Join a group. Ask your local LGBTQ rights group for something to do. Write a letter to your local paper’s editor. If you live in Illinois or Iowa and want to get involved, send us a message, we’ll hook you up. Speak out if you think this isn’t fair.

Marriage within walking distance

For those of you with little patience for rambling, the shortcut is: click the tab above 1 Mile March. We’re doing it the old-fashioned way, by walking across bridges.

Lindsey grew up in an area which I would refer to as “down” as in “we drove down to Moline” (this isn’t true; before I met her we never drove down there), despite being pretty exactly due west of the city (aka “Chicago”).

I-80 is the red line/WikiCommons

Illinois is slightly larger than England (postcolonial, where the sun sets the usual once per day) and similarly long, north to south. Roughly, one third of its population lives south of Interstate 80. A further third live in the northeast corner of the state, the “Chicagoland area”. The remaining third live in the “collar counties”, everything west of Chicago and north of I-80.

I grew up in Chicago, which, as you can see at my local library, is its own state:

Tri-state area?/photo mine

Despite this handicap, I developed a fondness for my home state of Illinois. Rolling fields, songbirds, terrifyingly complex monocrop agriculture, impossibly corrupted politics, my grandparents’ vegetable garden.

Iowa, though, is a state which I love dearly and hope to write more on later. Iowa holds my imagination and is what I hold when I talk about the Midwest. Lindsey and I are getting our marriage license this weekend. We have to go to Iowa for it. Again, it’s remarkable luck that this place which we loved anyway is the place which will recognize our love. It’s idiotic that the same can’t be said of our own homestate.

Can we pause for a second on the word “state”? What a great word. noun 1.the condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances or attributes … 10.the body politic as organized for civil rule and government

Anyways. Where were we. Oh yes, a protest. Check out the tab at the top of the page that says “1 Mile March”. My relationship rights dissolve when I cross a river, and that pretty much sucks. If you’re in Iowa or Illinois this weekend, you should come help out. It’ll be a good time.

Also, the Quad Cities are hosting their Pride Fest on Sunday June 6! Lindsey promises there will be rainbow balloons!

State by state

A month ago (a month!) I took a trip with Equality Illinois to Springfield, IL to lobby my legislators to support SB 1716. SB 1716 proposes to allow two persons in Illinois to enter into a civil union, regardless of gender. Here’s a good overview of Illinois political movement on SB 1716. (Spoiler alert: not much.) It was an excellent day for me to learn more about legislating in Illinois, meet people from all over the state, and leave some friendly notes for my representatives (one of whom was out of town, and one of whom could not be pinned down.)

Bob, Neil, Clif at the Springfield Capitol (Photo mine)

Since then I’ve been up to my ears in my usual organizing with Join the Impact Chicago, as well as joining LGBT Change, as well as dedicating a few hours to this civil unions bill. I’ll get more into that later, but let’s start with every queer’s question on this issue: support a civil unions bill? That is so 2004. Why bother?

I could go into a couple of heartwarming stories (note to self: this blog needs more heartwarming stories) of couples with decades of loyalty to each other but no legal protection from the state. Or I could take the pragmatic approach, using Massachusetts as a model of how civil unions soften the way for marriage equality. Or I could take a far left tack in the LGBTQ contingent and demand civil unions for all and an abolition of marriage entirely.

All of those are perfectly fine arguments, but when it comes down to it, here’s what I care about: Illinois is getting left out in the cold. When you look at maps of marriage equality over the last 10 years, you see states slowly being shaded in for domestic partnerships, for civil unions, for equal marriage.

Orange (5 +DC): marriage equality Gold (5): equivalent spousal rights Yellow (4): some spousal rights Stripes (2): recognizes other states' marriages

There is an equal marriage bill in the Illinois legislature; it’s dead in the water. If anything is going to be passed this year, it’s SB 1716. If it doesn’t pass this year, we’re likely to have a new governor next year hostile to LGBTQ rights (and a lot of other rights, too). Which means further delays in the LGBTQ movement in Illinois, which means waiting years to start this process all over again (and next time for marriage equality!). We need civil unions this year in Illinois. Not just for the legal recognition of thousands of LGBTQ couples in Illinois, but for the LGBTQ movement as a whole. We need to change the map.

I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to an Illinois state senator or representative, but mostly it’s like wading through molasses. Still, with that cheery recommendation, how bout calling your rep and seeing how they feel about SB1716? It’s a big election year, feel free to take advantage of that.

For a quick, enjoyable, only slightly-out-f-date run-down on marriage equality across the US, I highly recommend

this piece by NPR. Includes a more comprehensive map!