Rev. David K. North (C), pastor of the Holy Redeemer Metro Community Church, declares Angelisa Young (R) and Sinjolya Townsend, the first gay couple to wed in the District of Columbia, officially married at their wedding ceremony at the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington on March 9, 2010. In December 2009, the DC Council approved a bill that would allow for same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. Today, same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses they applied for last week and proceed with wedding ceremonies. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | License Photo
CHICAGO, June 1 (UPI) -- A couple who camped outside the Cook County Clerk's office in Chicago were the first to receive a civil union license Wednesday under Illinois' new law.
Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris were followed by more than 100 other couples who arrived early to get licenses, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"It's historic," said Watkins, who has been with Harris for 10 years. "We wanted to be first. We wanted to make a statement. For us, for our kids. It really means something."
County clerks across the state said they were prepared for an anticipated crush of same-sex couples seeking civil union licenses Wednesday.
The Cook County Clerk's office said it would celebrate what it called "the momentous occasion" by awarding a special gift package to the first couple getting a license, the Tribune reported. In addition, several local businesses supplied gifts that will be raffled off to other couples in line.
As with marriage licenses, civil union license applicants must pay a $35 fee and wait a day before they can hold a civil union ceremony. Couples already registered as domestic partners in Cook County but want to enter into a civil union will get a $20 discount and their domestic partnership will be dissolved.
Illinois is the sixth state to allow civil unions or their equivalent, which provide couples with the same state-level rights as marriage. Hawaii and Delaware have passed civil union laws that have not yet been enacted.