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Gay Marriage Bill Celebrated in Chicago

Racheal Hansen, a bartender in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, shared the news on her Facebook page yesterday that the Illinois House had just passed a measure to legalize gay marriage.

Her friends and family immediately wanted to know when she and her girlfriend were getting married.

“I’m proud for the state of Illinois,” said Hansen, who is 28.

Hansen, who has been dating her girlfriend for 3 years, said she plans on getting married.

“I’m just happy our time is now,” she said with giggle.
The bill passed the House with a 61 to 54 vote, barely reaching the required 60 votes needed.

Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr said Orr has been a long time supporter and is ecstatic over the ruling in the House yesterday.


Greve said 4,000 people have already gone through the process of getting a civil union in Cook County. She anticipates a majority of those people will be coming back to convert their civil unions to an official marriage license, which will be free of charge.


[/pullquote]Gay couples who currently have a civil union will receive new benefits once they file for a marriage license.

Greve said some businesses had already recognized civil unions for health benefits. With the new marriage license, gay couples now have more than 1,000 rights and benefits recognized by the state.

For example automatic spouse benefits in the event of death, and federal tax returns are now available to their partner.

Bartender and drag queen Steven Whitney and his partner of 15 years moved to Chicago from Iowa, where gay marriage has been legal since 2009.

“I felt like we finally caught up,” Whitney said.

At the Brown Elephant in Boystown, Chicago‘s iconic gay neighborhood, Lee Collier, a sales associate, was happy that the measure had passed.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Collier said.
Carolyn Musilek, 26, is a tattoo artist at Tattoo Factory in uptown. She has a gay brother and hopes he now will marry his partner of eight years soon.

“It was about time,” said Nikki Navarro,a 30 year old volunteer at Center on Halsted. “We’ve been waiting for so long. It’s a right we should have. I have a few friends wanting to get their license quickly.”
Couples can marry starting June 1.

Christa Smith, Brittany Delk, Shelia Headspeth, Sydney Lawson,  Jessica Wenck and Michael Syndel contributed to this story.

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