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Gay couples line up for civil union licenses in Chicago

M. Spencer Green / AP

From left, Jim Darby, 79, and his partner Patrick Bora,73, and Janean Watkins, 37, and her partner, Lakeesha Harris, 36, wait in line at the Cook County Office of Vital Records to obtain a civil union licenses, Wednesday, June 1, in Chicago. The couples, who arrived at the Cook County Building early in the morning to be first in line as Illinois' new civil union law took effect today.

John Gress / Reuters

Robin Petrovic, right, and Jamie Gayle embrace after they received their Civil Union license in Chicago on Wednesday. Illinois is the sixth state that allows civil unions or their equivalent.

John Gress / Reuters

Janean Watkins, second right, and Lakeesha Harris cry after being the first couple to receive their Civil Union license in Chicago on Wednesday.

The AP reports:

CHICAGO — Over the past 10 years, Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins have built a life together, with six children and a home. But they said they always felt relegated to second-class status. Until Wednesday.

The Chicago couple arrived at the Cook County building downtown at midnight to be the first in line as Illinois' new civil unions law took effect, allowing gay and lesbian couples to obtain civil union licenses.

"We've been ostracized and relegated to the bottom rung of society. I feel like this is some sort of justice for us, for our family," said Harris, 36. "I'm so grateful. I'm thankful. There are so many things going through my mind right now." Continue reading.