Civil unions begin in Illinois

BELLEVILLE — June is the traditional month for weddings, but Tamara Vowell and Teri Schenk aren't interested in tradition.

They hope to have their civil union ceremony Thursday in the St. Clair County Courthouse. No dresses. No flowers. No minister. But a deep desire to make their commitment formal.

"We aren't activists, looking to stick it to the man," Vowell said. "We just want to do what other people do."

effect on Wednesday, allowing same-sex couples to get recognition from the state, including power to make medical decisions and inherit a partner's property.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law in January making civil unions legal. Illinois is one of only a handful of states that recognize legal same-sex partnerships. Couples must wait a day after getting a license before they're allowed to hold a ceremony.

Vowell and Schenk, both of Belleville, were the sixth couple at the St. Clair County Building on Wednesday to get a license for a civil union.

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