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Nearly 50 same-sex couples lined up Wednesday at the Cook County clerk's office in Chicago to enter their names in the newly launched Cook County Domestic Partnership Registry. "There was quite a line," said Mona Noriega, who showed up to register with her partner of eight years, Evette Cardona. "I understand one couple was here at midnight, and people in the clerk's office tell me that no one does that anymore, except for Forest Preserve picnic permits." The registration carries no legal rights, but Noriega, who is Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay advocacy group, said it is at least a symbolic victory for same-sex couples. "The main benefits are the affirmation and the emotional commitment," she said. "We're a very ritualistic society, and it just feels very good. It also makes me feel good to have politicians recognize the importance of unions like ours." Robert Castillo and John Pennycuff were the ones in line at midnight and the first to sign the registry. The Chicago residents booked a hotel room downtown and took turns standing at the head of the queue until the registry opened shortly after 8:30 a.m. "Besides being partners in loving each other, we are also partners for social change," Castillo said. "I think it's important, even if it's a small step. It's a big day." Before the Cook County registry began Wednesday, the only government entity in Illinois operating such a program was the village of Oak Park. A total of 66 couples have signed up under the suburb's registry, which is open to village residents only. While applauding the Cook County move, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said there are no plans yet to imitate it on a statewide basis. "I support domestic partnerships between couples that are committed to one another so the laws are applied equally when it comes to relationships, and a registry could very well be something that would help do that," Blagojevich said. "But we've not really thought through the implications of that, so I'm not in a position to say right now whether that would be something the state would do."
Chicago opens "symbolic" DP registry" >