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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Signs Civil Union Legislation

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Signs Civil Union Legislation

Gay Illinoisans rejoiced Monday afternoon as Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation establishing civil unions, giving same-sex couples most of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage. Quinn signed the bill before a crowd of hundreds at the Chicago Cultural Center. He invoked the state’s most famous politician, Abraham Lincoln, by saying, “We’re a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and it shall not perish from the earth.”

Gay Illinoisans rejoiced Monday afternoon as Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation establishing civil unions, giving same-sex couples most of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Quinn signed the bill before a crowd of hundreds at the Chicago Cultural Center. He invoked the state’s most famous politician, Abraham Lincoln, by saying, “We’re a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and it shall not perish from the earth.”

The numerous other speakers at the signing ceremony included Greg Harris, the gay state representative who sponsored the bill, who like many others implied that civil unions were a step forward but not the final goal, which is marriage equality. “There is more work to be done,” he said. “Things can get better.”

Rep. Deb Mell, the other openly gay member of the state legislature, discussed her activism and the support of her father, Chicago alderman Richard Mell, and her fiancée, Christin Baker. “I realized the act of being out and telling our story was one of the most powerful things we could do,” she told ceremony attendees. Before the signing, she told The Advocate of civil unions, “This is a huge first step forward toward full marriage equality.”

At the ceremony, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon added, “I hope that other states will join us and I hope the federal government will join us as well. Full equality is not too much to ask for.”

Various speakers thanked all who had worked for the civil unions law and gay equality in general, including the late Larry McKeon, the first openly gay Illinois legislator, who died in 2008. They also cited support of Republicans as well as Democrats.


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