Illinois's Cook County board has overwhelmingly approved a proposal to create a registry for same-sex couples at the county clerk's office. The board voted 13-3 Tuesday to grant the domestic-partnership certificates, for a $30 filing fee. "Relationships aren't what people conceived them to be in 1955," said Commissioner Mike Quigley, the ordinance's primary sponsor. "We are a diverse country, we are a diverse world, and we should recognize that." Cook County includes the city of Chicago.
The board's 12 Democrats and one Republican, Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park, voted for the bill. Three Republicans voted against it. Republican commissioner Gregg Goslin voted present. "My upbringing has taught me not to judge people," Silvestri said. "This does not create a marriage. This does not incur any taxpayer cost."
Eleven of the board's 17 members were sponsors or cosponsors of the ordinance, including board president John Stroger and finance chairman John Daley, Chicago mayor Richard Daley's brother. "I strongly support this. I believe it's the right thing to do," John Daley said. "And I believe the family structure will not be destroyed at all."
Cook County clerk David Orr's office should have the program operating by early October, Deputy Clerk Brandon Neese said. Registrants must sign an affidavit saying they live together, that neither is
registered to another partner, and that they "are in a close and committed relationship of mutual financial and emotional support and intend to remain in such a relationship." The ordinance also authorizes Orr's office to issue affidavits of termination when a same-sex relationship ends.
"Granted, this doesn't convey any special protections or benefits to people, but it is very symbolic," said Rick Garcia, director for the civil rights group Equality Illinois. "It sends a strong message that all Cook Countians...will be treated fairly."