Category Archives: Civil Unions

BREAKING NEWS – Marriage Equality Bill introduced in Illinois

Moments ago, Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell, and Kelly Cassidy
filed a marriage equality bill in Illinois General Assembly.

We commend these leaders for taking yet another step towards
full equality for lesbian and gay families in Illinois, and we are
grateful to them for their leadership.  This is just the beginning: the
road to marriage equality is sure to be long, but it is one that we must
travel together.

In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions
over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true:
that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same
rights did not add up to full equality under the law. 
A pharmacist who
denied prescription pick-up to the patient’s civil union partner didn’t
think it’s the same thing as marriage.  A coroner who refused to issue a
death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that
civil unions are the same as marriage.  Tax preparers, estate planners,
employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as
marriage.  Separate is not equal.  And we at Equality Illinois will not
rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state – who
are equal in love – are also equal in marriage.

Just yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th
Circuit held that California’s denial of marriage in favor of domestic
partnerships for same sex couples violated the U.S. Constitution. 

In days, weeks, and months to come, we will share with you our strategy for moving forward toward marriage equality.  Please join us in this urgent and important work.  We cannot succeed without you.

Very truly yours,

Bernard Cherkasov
Chief Executive Officer


Rosie O’Donnell and Michelle Rounds Engaged


She  broke the news to her audience today in Chicago  during a break set aside for
commercials during the taping of her  new show, at the Harpo Studios.

Rosie did not say if it would be a civil union in the state of Illinois or just what the plans would be.

On Friday, she posted a photo of Michelle Rounds
on her Instagram page with the word “love.” She also Tweeted a link –
this time with the caption “happy – in love” – of her new fiancée the
same day.

The lesbian couple met at a Starbucks. In October, O’Donnell joked
that her “gaydar was way off” because she thought Rounds was
heterosexual and just 28 years old, when really she is a gay woman and

“It’s fun and very exciting,” O’Donnell recently said about the relationship. “I did not expect it.”


Beyond the Civil Union License…Celebrate Your Union with a Party

 “It has been a long journey here, and for all of you entering into civil unions today, you have a long and fruitful journey ahead,”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the crowd yesterday as the first cermonies began being held!.

Illinois is the sixth state to allow civil unions or their equivalent, which provide same-sex or opposite-sex couples the same state-level rights as married couples. Wednesday was the first day couples could get civil union licenses and, as with marriage, there is a one-day waiting period before a ceremony can be held.

“This is indeed a historic day, a special day that all of us in the land of Lincoln can celebrate,” Governor Quinn said. “There are all kinds of families in Illinois, but we are all the family of Illinois.”

So you want to have a Civil Union?!

Step One –  register with Cook County –
                                 And then  you have a judge Civil Union-ize you.

Step Two – Do you want more of a formal
                                      ceremony for family and friends?

You will need an officiant. Meet Reverend Vito Anthony!  “My role as celebrant is to offer a non-judgmental, non-denominational, spiritual ceremony for you and your loved ones, for any variety of momentous occasions in your life. As the pages turn with every new chapter in your life-whether it be one of joy or sorrow-it is equally important to mark your new chapters with a dignified ceremony. It is my goal to provide you with a ceremony that will not only fit your exact needs, but also to conduct a unique and memorable ceremony to help you begin your journey, whether in grief or happiness. –  I am VERY EXCITED that the State of Illinois is offering Civil Unions to the LGBT Community!”   

Rev. Vito Anthony   

Every wedding or party HAS TO HAVE A CAKE! 

OAK MILL BAKERIES has 6 locations in Chicago, are a family-owned retail and wholesale specialty Bakery committed to providing only the freshest and finest European style baked goods. The BEST I have ever seen or tasted!

 Specializing in high-end cakes, superior pastries, tortes, sweet table displays, and baked goods made from scratch and fresh from their  ovens daily. Their gourmet products are made from natural ingredients using only fresh fruits & purees, natural butter, fresh eggs, fresh whipping cream and parve (kosher) chocolate imported directly from Europe. Their products are guaranteed to make your special event delicious, and we invite you to stop by one of our stores to sample  their daily selections.

 Born of Polish heritage, Bogna Iwanowska-Solak came to the United States in 1981 with plans extending only to a short vacation. She ended up staying and launching a successful bakery business. With quality and freshness at the forefront, Oak Mill Bakery still imports some of its ingredients directly from Poland staying true to its roots. This combination of European and natural ingredients along with attention to detail has created what many consider to be a source of pastry perfection.

Oak Mill Bakeries

What About Flowers?   

Andrea North at FlowerPetal says, “We have earned the trust of many couples  by delivering on the promise of providing the same high level of service to each and every one of our customers. We know you have a choice, and we encourage you to shop around and find the best fit for your wedding or ceremony. When you decide on FlowerPetal for your wedding, you will know you’ve made the right choice.

And we are very excited to be working with the LGBT community of Chicagoland!  This is an exciting time!

Many wedding vendors hear the word “wedding”  and automatically raise the prices!  “We don’t charge a “Wedding Tax”.  Many florists automatically double or triple their prices when they hear you are shopping for a wedding. FlowerPetal  charges the same prices regardless of the event type, and allows each customer  to decide for themselves  how much time they  needs with our wedding consultant and our professional florist. We automatically include 2 hours with our wedding  consultant to ensure everything is tailored to your specifications.”

Andrea North at FlowerPetal    1-800-893-5719  ext 103 

 What else do you need?  Invitations?  A hotel and/or honeymoon package?  A caterer?  Decorations?? Many people do not realize how invaluable a planner can be to them.

Take a deep breathe,  ADH EVENTS can help.  Whether you’re planning your ceremony locally or internationally, ADH Meetings & Events  can  help. From an intimate wedding, buying out a small boutique hotel which allows for all the guests to get to know each other over a few days, or planning a wedding on a grand scale, ADH assists in provide the right balance. According to Alexander deHilster “your wedding might not seem a destination wedding to you when you’re planning it in your home town, for many of your guests who are traveling from afar it would be. Often the guests’ experience seems to get lost in the process of planning the perfect day.”

ADH  Events can assist with any of the needs for your special day from locating the perfect wedding/reception venue to arranging hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests, a dedicated phone line for your guests to book air travel , to assisting in menu, floral, entertainment, transportation and decor selection all while staying within your budget. Their  dedicated coordinators will plan every detail to make sure everything runs smoothly so you can enjoy your day.

Additionally, “The time spent to plan a gay or lesbian ceremony are just as involved as planning a conventional wedding, but for gay and lesbian couples there are a few important details to consider.”  says owner Alexander deHilster. ” With constant changes in rules and regulations in cities, states and countries around the globe, and depending in which part of the world you’re planning to commit to your life partner, the names run from commitment ceremonies, civil unions and weddings, we at ADH  Events are here to help you.” 

“Some places only allows for you two to commit legally if one of the partners is either a residence or a national, other locations requires you’re both residents while at others there are no residency requirements at all.” ADH  will make the entire planning experience a smooth one and helps you to find the perfect location to make this day a very special one! From Buenos Aires, Mexico City or Hawaii to Chicago, Paris or Amsterdam –  they can  help!

ADH  EVENTS   312-265-9759

Now Go Get Hitched!

Best Gay


Gay Couples say Civil Unions a step in the Right Direction, for Chicago

Chicago – Cook County Clerk David Orr said his office issued 203 civil union licenses   on the first day they were able to  in Illinois. 

Orr’s office said Wednesday evening that many couples arrived before the clerk’s office opened in downtown Chicago.   But officials say the office saw a steady stream of couples applying for civil unions until the office closed at 7 p.m.

The first civil union license was issued Wednesday morning to Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris of Chicago, who arrived at midnight to be the first couple in line at the Daley Center, according to the release.
(They started the line at Midnight last night!)

“This is a day long in the making,” said Orr, who is on assignment in Macedonia as an election monitor.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 150 couples had obtained licenses at the Clerk’s downtown office, including a few dozen at the Clerk’s five suburban offices. At least two of the couples were heterosexual, the release said.

Harris and Watkins have six children and have been together more than a decade.

Another couple, Pam Voss and Melody Fairchild started dating 13 years ago. “It’s nice to finally have your relationship validated,” Voss said.

Qadree and Troy Holmes, who have been together for six years, met at a barbeque Qadree hosted. Although the couple had a wedding ceremony in 2007 at their church, they were grateful for the opportunity to have a civil union.

Hyde Park residents James Darby, 79, and Patrick Bova, 73, the oldest couple to obtain their civil union license Wednesday, have been a couple for nearly a half century. The youngest couple were Elena Denise Cano, 21, and Jannett Lopez, 20.

Because Watkins and Harris were first in line to receive their civil union license, they received a gift package from several sponsors, including: a two-night stay at the Palmer House Hilton; free Eli’s Cheesecake each anniversary for the rest of their lives; a $100 gift certificate to Wilde Bar & Restaurant; a Starbelly Studios photo shoot with three complimentary prints; a $100 Downtown Bar & Lounge gift certificate; and a $50 LaSalle Flowers gift certificate.

More than 80 other “presents” were donated and raffled off at a reception hosted by the Clerk’s office. Grand prize winners Jef Johnson and Allen Nichols received a 2-hour party cruise from Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, which includes complimentary wine and beer as well as a gift basket with champagne, chocolate and more (valued at $2,500).

In north suburban Lake County, County Clerk Willard Helander reported that six couples were in line for their civil union licenses by 8:30 a.m. As of 3:30 p.m. 15 civil union licenses had been issued in Lake County, according to Helander’s office.

Married couples have 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities.
Civil Unions provides legal protection to couples at the state law level, but omits federal protections, as well as the dignity, clarity, security and power of the word “marriage”.

Civil unions give couples the right to make funeral and end-of-life decisions, the right to share a room in a nursing home, automatic hospital visitation, adoption and parental rights, pension benefits, inheritance rights, the right to decide how to dispose of a partner’s remains, and the right not to testify against each other in court. It is more than we had before!  I’ll take it. For now.


Cook County to Shower Happy Couples With Presents on June 1st – The first Official Day of Civil Unions

June 1st will be an exciting day for the Cook County Clerk’s office.  Not only will we be issuing our very first Civil Union licenses, but we will shower the happy couples with the wonderful presents donated by area businesses.”  said   David Orr, Cook County Clerk.


Illinois will begin offering Civil Union licenses at every county clerk’s office on June 1. The Cook County Clerk’s office will open its downtown office early to mark the momentous occasion. “I’m thrilled this day has finally come,” Clerk David Orr said. “This will be a joyous day for all couples – gay and straight – who want to make history as part of the inaugural group of civil unions.”



Wednesday, June 1. The Clerk’s downtown Chicago Vital Records office will open at 7:30 a.m.



Before 6 a.m., couples should line up outside the Daley Center’s northeast door, located near Randolph and Dearborn Streets. The Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., will open at 6 a.m. Couples should take the escalators down to the lower level (Pedway) and line up outside the Vital Records office, Room CL-27.



Civil Union licenses will be available to same-sex and heterosexual couples. The Clerk’s office encourages all couples who wish to get a license on June 1 to visit the downtown office (not a suburban office). All couples need to meet the following criteria:


• Be at least 18 years old;

• Not be related to one another;

• Have valid, current identification, such as driver’s license, state ID or U.S. passport;

• Pay a $35 license application fee. Cash preferred. MasterCard, American Express & Discover accepted. Personal checks and Visa will not be accepted.

• Couples who are currently registered as Domestic Partners in Cook County will receive a $20 discount and their domestic partnership will be automatically dissolved.

• Any couple planning to participate in a June 2 ceremony – including the Millennium Park event hosted by the City of Chicago, Lamda Legal, Equality Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Judges – MUST obtain a license from the Clerk’s office on June 1.

A license is valid for a ceremony held within 60 days of the issue date. By law, couples must wait until the day after they obtain their license to have their Civil Union ceremony performed so June 2 is the first day Civil Union ceremonies can be held. Within 10 days of a ceremony, Civil Union officiants must return the completed license for it to be certified and recorded by the County Clerk.


Civil Union “presents” have been donated by 20 local businesses. The first couple in line at 7:30 a.m. will receive a gift package. Other presents will be distributed by raffle; couples in line by 7:30 a.m. will be eligible. The Clerk’s office will invite all couples back to a party room for cake and chocolate, donated by Eli’s Cheesecake and Illinois Nut & Candy.



Wilde Bar & Restaurant

Transistor Starbelly Studios Photography Restoration Salon

The Palmer House Hilton

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Sierzega & Associates, Ltd.

Mendell on the Move

LaSalle Flowers

Lambda Legal

Lady Gregory’s

Illinois Nut & Candy Goodman Theatre

Eli’s Cheesecake

Downtown Bar & Lounge

Crew Bar + Grill

Chicago’s First Lady Cruises

Best Gay Chicago

Angel’s Restaurant

ADH Meetings & Events


CIVIL UNIONS Available in Chicago and Illinois June 1st

 JUNE 1st 2011! 

That is the first day couples can officialy register their CIVIL UNION with the State of Illinois!   –  It’s NOT gay marriage –  but it a huge step in the right direction, for the state and MANY couples are expected to register.

“Here we are in 2011 on the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s 202nd birthday and I think this is very special,” Governor Quinn said. “We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions.”

With the move, Illinois joins five other states and the District of Columbia in establishing statewide laws to provide the equivalent of state-level spousal rights to same sex couples.


Thirty Illinois Couples to Hold Civil Union Ceremonies in Chicago’s Millennium Park on June 2, 2011
Governor to Attend Chicago’s Celebration of Civil Unions
In celebration of the first day of civil union ceremonies in Illinois, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues will host 30 civil union ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 2, in Wrigley Square at Millennium Park, Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

“Our state’s first civil union ceremonies will mark a day of celebration and an historic milestone on the road to full marriage equality for LGBT Illinoisans,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I look forward to attending this joyful event.”

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. Governor Pat Quinn will attend, and 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.

THEN on JUNE 3rd – @ 

Chicago History Museum

1601 North Clark St. , 

Unite with Pride:
A Community Celebration
, hosted by the Civil Rights Agenda. a multi-couple civil union ceremony to celebrate the enactment of civil unions in Illinois and the beginning of Pride Month in Chicago.

Unite with Pride will provide couples an opportunity to be civilly united in an historic outdoor community civil ceremony on the picturesque “Uihlein Plaza” just days after the civil union law takes effect.

The festivities will continue as couples, family, friends, and the community attend a black-tie optional cocktail reception with entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and desserts provided by various vendors from the event planning industry.

In addition to the ceremony and reception, guests will be granted access to the newly opened Chicago History Museum exhibit “Out in Chicago”. The “Out in Chicago” exhibit will explore how the evolution of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community mirrors broader changes throughout the city over the past 150 years.

This fundraiser will benefit our Families United Project. The Families United Project is an exploration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer families in Illinois. The goal of the Families United Project is to gain equality for every family in Illinois through the use of social media, political advocacy and by building community. We seek to engage all people who believe that every family in America deserves to be equal.

Please go to to buy your tickets!
Those guests and couples who register or have already registered for the event by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday May 28 will be automatically entered in a drawing to have brunch with Al Franken when he is in town on June 12!  This is a private event and you will be able to meet and brunch with the Senator. Senator Franken is a leader on progressive causes and is committed to advancing LGBT Rights.
Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the Senator and register now!

on  Sunday June 5, 12:30PM     Civil Unions – What do they mean?
St. Pauls United Church of Christ,   2335 N Orchard, Chicago 60614

As this new Illinois law goes into effect on June 1, what are the legal and financial implications for you and your loved ones? Is a civil union a good idea for you? Bring your questions to this panel discussion featuring legal professionals, including a representative from Lambda Legal.

Box lunch available for $10.
Please RSVP by May 31, indicating if you’d like a lunch, to: or phone 773-348-3829.



Mass Civil Union Ceremony and Reception June 3rd in Chicago

The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA),
an Illinois statewide LGBTQ
advocacy and political organization,
will be hosting a mass civil union
ceremony to celebrate the enactment
of civil unions in Illinois and the
 beginning of Pride Month in Chicago.
Unite with Pride:
A Community Celebration
June 3rd at 5:00pm at
The Chicago History Museum. 

Unite with Pride will provide couples an opportunity to be civilly united in an historic outdoor community civil ceremony on the picturesque “Uihlein Plaza” just days after the civil union law takes effect.  The festivities will continue as couples, family, friends, and the community attend a black-tie optional cocktail reception with entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and desserts provided by various vendors from the event planning industry.

In addition to the ceremony and reception, guests will be granted access to the newly opened Chicago History Museum exhibit “Out in Chicago”. The “Out in Chicago” exhibit will explore how the evolution of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community mirrors broader changes throughout the city over the past 150 years.

(Top photo –
“Recognizing the historic significance of civil unions beginning in Illinois, we thought it most fitting to have Unite With Pride at the Chicago History Museum, which also happens to be one of the most beautiful venues in the City for couples who wish to celebrate their union,” said Derrick Taylor, Event Director for Unite With Pride and President of Taylor & Co. “The couples who are participating have so many different reasons for taking part. Some couples don’t have the funds to do their own event so they are participating in this and inviting their friends and family.  Other couples have already solemnized their relationship in Iowa or elsewhere so this is a great way for them to take part in recognizing their Civil Union here in Illinois. Others still just want to assist an organization that helped pass the law and is fighting for LGBTQ families across Illinois.”

Jayson Bernard and Roberto Rosario are one of the couples that are taking part in the ceremony. “Roberto and I met eight years ago and it was love at first sight,” stated Jayson.”It’s nice to know we can finally show the world that our love deserves to be recognized by laws and society.” “This is a huge step for our community and we are honored to be a part of this event and help TCRA,” said Roberto. 
Unite with Pride: A Community Celebration is a fundraiser for The Civil Rights Agenda which continues the fight to establish equality for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. All proceeds of the event will benefit the Families United Project. The Families United Project is an exploration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer families in Illinois through the use of social media, political advocacy and by building community.
“The goal of the Families United Project is to gain equality for every family in Illinois. We hope to build a community of families that are made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” said Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda.  “We will help to empower this community to seek justice and equality for their families.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased at Joint CRA. Tickets for community guests are $50 and couples are asked to make a suggested donation of $75, but no couple will be turned away from participating due to financial capability.

*NOTE- Couples can apply for their actual Union license on June 1st or 2nd  with Cook County –  you will want to get your application in BEFORE 5pm on the 2nd, so that you can technically participate in the mass ceremony and have everything be legal.

more  info  email        info (at)


Financial Impact of the Illinois Civil Unions Act FREE Seminar April 5th

Money Smart week
begins this week in Chicago

with a series of about 100 educational free seminars around the city.

On April 5th, one is being held downtown specifically for the LGBTQ community and the
 Financial Impact of the Illinois Civil Unions Act

How will this affect us financially?
Come find out at the FREE event!

Tuesday Arpil 5, 2011 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago 230 LaSalle street

The featured speakers are from Metx and Associates and Equality Illinois. The event is free and open to the public, so feel free to share with family, friends and colleagues.

Best Gay


Civil Union Tracker PLUS LGBT Wedding Expo

We know that many couples are looking forward to celebrating their civil union with family and friends after the law goes into effect on June 1, 2011.

The LAMBDA LEGAL/Equality Illionis Civil Union Tracker system aims to ensure that same-sex and different-sex couples who have a civil union (either because they have applied for one in Illinois, or because their out-of-state marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership qualifies as a civil union in Illinois) are treated fairly under Illinois law.

We know from experience in other states that have adopted civil union laws, that many couples and their children encounter problems getting respect for their relationships, whether in hospitals settings, by insurers, employers, schools or in other situations. While not all unfair treatment leads to legal action, knowing more about your rights will help you respond.

Please join our Illinois Civil Union Tracker. Complete the form and you will be connected to our team of experts who will help you navigate this new territory in Illinois. If you or someone you know is having trouble getting proper treatment as a couple in a civil union, contact the Illinois Civil Union Tracker Team.


ALSO – LGBT  WEDDING  EXPO  in Chicago  Sunday  March 27th.

The Wedding Expo, presented in partnership with the Rainbow Wedding Network will take place on Sunday, March 27 from 1 to 4pm at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago.  The event is open to the general public, and tickets, required for admission, can be obtained at

“Same-sex couples across the State have waited for a long time for their relationships to have legal recognition.  Now that civil unions are law, we want to support these happy couples in planning their celebrations.” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

With the theme of “Same Love, Same Rights,” the 3rd annual LGBT Wedding Expo will provide a backdrop for couples to connect with LGBT-friendly business professionals who can assist blissful couples with planning their civil union weddings or other ceremonies. Representatives from Equality Illinois will be available to answer any questions attendees may have about civil unions in Illinois.  A diverse group of gay-friendly businesses will participate, including photographers, event coordinators, officiants, ceremony and reception venue representatives, cake decorators, entertainment representatives, floral designers, travel planners, and legal resource professionals.

Chicago Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo
Sunday March 27, 2011       1:00pm-4:00pm
Holiday Inn Mart Plaza       350 West Mart Center Drive       Chicago, IL 60654

Michael Snell and Best Gay  is now  offering  Civil Union Photography for your special event!
Contact us  at  773-878-5323  if you want details about hiring us!