Couples lined up at courthouses across Illinois Wednesday as civil
unions became available to gay and lesbian couples for the first time
in the state.
Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins were the first in line at the Cook County clerk's office. They were one of about 75 couples waiting at the downtown Chicago building, where 2,000 licenses are expected to be issued Wednesday, officials told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We've been ostracized and relegated to the bottom rung of society," Harris said in the article. "I feel like this is some sort of justice for us, for our family. I'm so grateful. I'm thankful."
Shiloh, Ill., resident Sarah Baldwin is entering into a civil union with her partner, Heather Sowell. They were among six couples waiting to receive their civil union licenses when the St. Clair County courthouse in Belleville opened, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"We could have gone to another state to get married but we wanted to be legally together here in our home state," Baldwin said.
Seth Dodson and Viktor van Bramer have been planning their wedding for more than a year, according to The Huffington Post. Their ceremony is slated for June 18 in Chicago.
"We believe that legal rights are immensely important but our original plan was to define this marriage for ourselves and share our love and commitment with family and friends," Dodson said.
According to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, couples must wait one day after they receive their civil union license before having a formal ceremony. Thursday, dozens of couples are planning to participate in a mass ceremony at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Watch Chicago's ABC News affiliate's report on gay and lesbian couples lining up awaiting their meetings with the county clerk.