ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. (KMOX) – Wedding bel- er, civil union bells are ringing in Illinois as a state law recognizing same-sex couples took effect Wednesday. St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney reported that seven couples in the county had been united as of 9 AM and that he was expecting more to turn out.
“I expect them throughout the day,” Delaney said. “I was just hoping they didn’t come all at one time because we’re only equipped to have two couples on our computer terminals, and it takes ten to fifteen minutes to do the license. So, I was just worrying that if we had a big back up that it was gonna take some time.”
However, some gay rights activist bloggers claim that civil unions echo the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of “separate but equal” which also prompts the Brown v. Board of Education counter that anything separate cannot be equal. In fact, Delaney noted that there were some differences between same-sex civil unions and heterosexual marriages.
“In Illinois now, a civil union couple could get benefits or file jointly as an income tax,” he said “But you can’t do that with the federal form, because the federal [government] don’t [sic] recognize it.”
And that’s thanks to to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1996. This piece of legislation defines that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
In the Illinois Bar Journal, Richard A. Wilson wrote a laymen’s guide to the new Illinois law and its relation to DOMA, stating “This [law] produces a conflict between state and federal law where benefits, rights and interests of spouses – in areas such as taxation, social security, retirement or health care benefits from employer plans governed by federal law, immigration benefits, and the like – depend upon the marital relationship.”
The impediments didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of anyone at the county clerk’s office today though, according to Delaney.
“I just saw a lot of happy people,” he said.