Same-Sex Couples Take Vows For Civil Unions

UPDATED 06/02/11 11:22 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a shining moment for all to see Thursday morning, as same-sex couples gathered to exchange vows for their civil unions in Millennium Park.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the turnout was impressive at Wrigley Square, at the northwestern corner at Millennium Park near Michigan Avenue and Randolph Drive.

Hundreds of people – possibly even a couple thousand – gathered in the park and along Michigan Avenue to witness the momentous event.

Each couple was assigned to a judge, and five couples exchanged vows at a time. Between 10 and 11 a.m., CBS 2 witnessed about 15 couples tie the knot.

At the start, a string quartet captured the moments leading up the ceremony, with cheerfulness all around the square. A total of 30 same-sex couples who received their licenses Wednesday arrived in their finest dresses and suits.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Craig Dellimore Reports

The couples took a group picture to mark the occasion, and many said it was surreal to be together there.

“This is a day that we thought would never come,” said Diana Shull. “This is an exciting day. I’m just so happy that we’re here taking part.”

When asked if she thought she would cry, Shull said: “I’m sure we both will. We have some Kleenex on hand.”

“A lot of people worked very hard, and people have died through this struggle, so it’s important that we recognize it,” said Shull’s partner, Maggie Burke.

Among the other couples joined at the ceremony were Patrick Bova and James Darby of the Hyde Park neighborhood. They will have been together for 48 years on July 17.

Both said they felt “wonderful” as they stood for the ceremony.

Also at the ceremony were Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris, who were the first couple to receive a civil union license Wednesday. They have been together for more than a decade and have six children together.

They joined us on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday to talk about their milestone. Harris described the couple’s six children as “really excited.”

“Everybody could hardly sleep last night,” she said. “We had to make them go to bed.”

The couple said a civil union is particularly important for the legal protections it offers.

“We get an opportunity to do the things that are necessary to take care of our children,” Watkins said. “We have legal protections now. There are a lot of reasons why we felt we needed to have this.”

Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were both present for the ceremony. Quinn signed the legislation allowing for civil unions into law on Jan. 31, after it was approved by both houses of the state General Assembly in December.

“This was one of the most important bills that Illinois has passed in anyone’s memory,” Quinn said in opening the ceremony.

After Quinn’s address, the couples exchanged vows in groups of five. Among those performing the ceremonies were Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, and Circuit Court Judge Tom Chiola, who became the first openly gay judge elected in the county in 1994.

As of 11 a.m., several couples were still waiting to take their vows. Once a judge signs their license, they will finally receive a civil union certificate to seal the deal.

Earlier, six other same-sex couples made their unions fully official well before dawn. They celebrated their love at the stroke of midnight at the Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St.

Those couples won the ceremony as part of a video and writing contest on Facebook. Sixteen local wedding vendors donated the food, wine, flowers, a disc jockey and even a photographer.

The party lasted well into the wee hours of the morning.

Steve Coy and Felix Diaz have been together 2 1/2 years, and they say this day was extremely important for them.

“To be able to look after one another and make decisions for each other that the other one can’t; to actually be a fully, functionally working couple together,” Diaz said.

“This is extremely important for us that we are able to now be there, no matter what, for each other,” Coy added.

The legislation allowing for civil unions in Illinois was signed into law by Gov. Quinn on Jan. 31, after being approved by both houses of the state General Assembly in December.

Civil unions give same sex and opposite sex couples the same rights as married couples when it comes to parenting, hospital rights, inheritances and more.

  • United

    […] There’s a whole lot of kissing going on in the Land of Lincoln today. Couples (same-sex and straight) are street legal for civil unions. As you can see, some of them got an early start. […]

  • Pat Frederickson

    It is about time Illinois! Long may these couples love. God(dess) bless these unions and all those who finally made these unions possible.

  • Pothead

    God will never bless these unions. They are unnatural and immoral.
    Two guys kissing in public will get exactly what they deserve .

  • Drew

    If those of you so full of HATE AND BIGOTRY above are as deeply offended as you purport to be, tell me something: why did you read–and respond about–the ceremonies which took place today? You could have skipped past this story and made no comment at all, yet you did just the opposite. You’re little more than jokes yourselves. Get a clue about life, and pick up a large package of love while you’re at it. These individuals don’t have issues; it’s negative, narrow-minded people like you that have issues which require significant, long-term psychotherapy to eradicate.

    • Jimbo

      @Drew, I think just the opposite, These f@gs could probably be helped by long-term psychotherapy. Sick Puppies.

    • klmen

      No, we believe in God and especially the first few chapters of Romans. You might want to read the book of Romans. (The Bible)

    • Pothead

      Drew , kiss your lover on the lakefront and see what happens. Your kind is not wanted here. Go live in Boystown ya freak !

  • Gerald Spencer

    The unforgivable sin of Christian religions is to deny the spirit. Anyone who stands in the way of personal love and happiness denies the spirit. It is the same unforgivable sin of taking life; there is no difference. There is only one commandment, how hard can it be to follow that commandment? Obviously, very hard for several posters here.

    • klmen

      Your theology is way off. Go back and read the gospels and get some proper theological training. Taking a life is not “unforgivable”. Please don’t spew your errant theology.

      • Diana

        I’m sure Jesus Christ appreciates you giving him some time off while you sit at the right hand of God to serve as judge and jury for Him.

    • Cliff

      @Gerald, Isn’t butt sex a sin?

  • Ismael martinez

    Drew let’s see how you feel when your son is kissing another man. At least it is civil union and not marriage like they wanted. One more time marriage is between a man and a woman. Politicians tried to change this for votes.

  • Same-Sex Couples Take Vows For Civil Unions | plus size dresses |plus size suits

    […] Read more on CBS Chicago […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live