For Gays, Lesbians, Now It's 'Yes'

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

For Gays, Lesbians, Now It's 'Yes'


Byline: Robert Sanchez bsanchez@dailyherald

Every Valentine's Day for years, Rosann Szalkowski and Barb McMillan would take a symbolic trip to the DuPage County clerk's office. They'd apply for a marriage license, then get the answer they expected: No.

On Wednesday morning, though, the Roselle couple was able to leave the clerk's Wheaton office with the next best thing: their civil union license.

Szalkowski and McMillan were the first of 18 couples in DuPage to get such a license. With ceremonies allowed to start today in Illinois, thousands of couples throughout the state were expected to get licenses.

"It's almost overwhelming," said Szalkowski, 50, after paying $35 for the license. "It feels very good to know that we've taken that first step. It's not marriage, but we get some rights and some recognition as being a valid couple."

Civil unions give couples many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage. That includes the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner's property.

"It's historic," said Abby Siakpere, 29, of Glendale Heights. "I love that we now have some rights in our home state, and we're finally being recognized just like any other married couple."

Siakpere and her partner, 30-year-old Julie Screnock, are

planning to have a small ceremony Saturday at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

"We're not entering this lightly," Screnock said. "We're committed to each other just like any other couple."

One DuPage couple was happy to learn they don't need a license after all.

Aurora residents Sherry Burlingame, 52, and Linda Zetterberg, 59, just celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary. They married in 2005 in Canada.

On Wednesday, they were told their Ontario marriage certificate is recognized by Illinois. …

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