Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Clerk's office remembers days before civil unions
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2011-08-03

This article shared 2824 times since Wed Aug 3, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


For 27 years Louisa Nicotera was in the business of saying "no."

Same-sex couples showed up to her window at the Cook County Clerk's office year after year to ask for marriage licenses. Every time, Nicotera rattled off the same mantra—state law prohibited marriage between same-sex couples, she said. Then, she encouraged them to reach out to their state legislators.

"My heart is tugging one way, and I'd say 'Look, I can't do anything for you,'" Nicotera said. "I would feel for them. ... Personally, me, as Jane Doe citizen, I feel like everyone has a right to be married."

Same-sex marriage sit-ins in the Cook County Clerk's office started in the mid 1970s and continued until June, when civil unions took effect. Sometimes loud and disruptive and other times disappointed and calm, LGBT couples approached the desk twice a year and asked for the same rights as everyone else.

Jeff Graubart thinks he holds the record for the most number of actions in the clerk's office. Graubart, who organized "marry-ins" with Citizens for Gay Action, spent more than 35 years approaching the desk.

Graubart spent eight days in Cook County Jail for sitting-in at the Clerk's office in 1976. He said that when current Cook County Clerk David Orr came on in the scene in 1990, things changed.

"They went out of their way not to arrest us," he said. "They were nice about it."

LGBT activists would often call the clerk's office and let them know they were coming. The following standoff between activist and staffers was sometimes theatrical. Many staffers did want to issue licenses and activists didn't always blame them for not doing so. But both sides agreed, the actions were necessary.

"They were trying. They want to get their voices heard," said Nicotera, adding that she understood why her office was the target of the demonstrations, even though the issue was out of her hands.

Orr also understood. Some gay marriage activists were his friends, and he supported gay rights publicly. He sometimes wanted to protest with them, but he knew that if he issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, courts would just overturn them.

"It was a drag," he said. "And the only thing that really keeps you going is the hope that things will get better."

According to Graubart, activists who put their relationships in the spotlight in the fight for same-sex marriage often suffered because of it. Graubart appeared on Oprah and Geraldo in the 90s.

"Putting our relationship up for public scrutiny was unhealthy for the relationship and contributed to ending it after 14 years," he said. "I remember two other guys who put their relationship up for public scrutiny on Oprah at the time whose story ended far more tragically…the early fighters for equal marriage rights often sacrificed their very loving families for the rights we are finally winning."

Activists from Gay Liberation Network, Join the Impact-Chicago and Queer Nation also participated in the "marry-ins" which drew media attention and occasional arrests.

Groups started protesting the Clerk's office the day before Thanksgiving and near or on Valentine's Day. In recent years, they targeted the days around the Chicago Pride Parade instead of the November protest.

The start of Illinois civil unions June 1 of this year changed all of that.

Graubart said he thinks it might be the end of "marry-ins," at least for now. That is a change he was happy to see.

"It was absolutely wonderful," he said. "I was just very excited."

Orr and Nicotera were excited, too.

When the civil unions act passed, Nicotera helped develop the program for implementing them.

Nicotera had supervised marriages in Cook County for several years. As supervisor, she had the honor of issuing the first marriage license every year.

When civil unions became legal, Nicotera was invited to issue the first license in Cook County. On June 1, she stepped up to a desk at the clerk's office where Janean Latricia Watkins and Lakeesha Harris waited for the first license.

With news cameras behind her and a jam-packed office in front of her, Nicotera took a deep breath and started on the paperwork.

"I just started crying like a baby," she said. "I just lost it. And everyone down the line started crying, too."


This article shared 2824 times since Wed Aug 3, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

[UPDATE] Lisle school offers job to lacrosse coach in same-sex marriage 2021-09-21
- The administration at Lisle’s Benet Academy, a west suburban Catholic school, has reversed course and offered a job to a woman in a same-sex marriage after initially rescinding the offer, The Chicago Tribune reported. ...


Gay News

Pope again refuses to bless same-sex marriages 2021-09-18
- Pope Francis told reporters recently on a return flight from Hungary that the Catholic Church is unable to bless same-sex marriages because marriage is a divine sacrament between a man and a woman, per The Advocate. ...


Gay News

Polis marriage marks first same-sex wedding of sitting governor 2021-09-17
- On Sept. 15, Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis wed longtime partner Marlon Reis—marking the first same-sex marriage of a sitting U.S. governor, NPR reported. Polis keeps making history. In 2018, Polis became the first openly gay ...


Gay News

LGBTQ advocates celebrate two Illinois marriage certificate modernization bills 2021-07-27
--From a press release - Trans and non-binary people who were married in Illinois will now be able to obtain marriage certificates that reflect their authentic selves thanks to legislation signed today by Governor JB Pritzker, according to Equality Illinois and ...


Gay News

WORLD Marriage in Chile, Polish website, Toronto news, 'Reclaim Pride' march 2021-07-25
- On July 21, Chile's Senate approved an equal-marriage bill, DW.com reported. The regulations were presented during the second government of the socialist Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018) and last June 1, during ...


Gay News

LGBTQ advocates celebrate passage of Illinois marriage certificate name change legislation 2021-05-28
--From a press release - LGBTQ advocates are celebrating passage of state legislation that will provide certainty for individuals requesting that their Illinois marriage certificates reflect a legal name change. HB 2590 is an initiative of Equality Illinois and Chicago House ...


Gay News

LGBT-inclusive marriage-certificate act passes state General Assembly 2021-05-21
--From a press release - May 21. 2021 - In an effort to modernize marriage certificates in Illinois, state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and state Rep. Ann Williams helped pass The Marriage Certificate Modernization Act through the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation ...


Gay News

Starting May 3, ceremonies in Cook County's downtown Marriage Court can be performed by Zoom 2021-04-30
- CHICAGO (April 30) — Marriage and civil union ceremonies at Cook County's downtown Marriage and Civil Union Court (Marriage Court) may be performed via Zoom videoconference, as well as in person, starting next week, according to ...


Gay News

Illinois Senate passes proposal removing gendered language from marriage certificates 2021-04-21
--From a press release - On April 21, on its third reading, the Illinois Senate passed (by a bipartisan vote of 44-13) a proposal that amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to allow the removal of gendered language ...


Gay News

Russian leader Putin officially bans same-sex marriage 2021-04-08
- On April 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a series of constitutional amendments that, among other things, formally defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country, The Washington Blade reported. ...


Gay News

Global momentum for marriage equality surges,"Freedom to Marry Global" website created 2021-03-31
--From a freedomtomarry.org press release - April 1st marks twenty years since the Netherlands ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, becoming the first of so far 30 countries worldwide to affirm the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Now, two ...


Gay News

WORLD Landmark ruling, Montreal's Gay Village, acid attack, anti-LGBTQ laws 2021-03-21
- In a landmark ruling, a Japanese court ruled that the government's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, NPR noted. Article 24 of Japan's constitution defines marriage as based on the "mutual consent of both sexes," which ...


Gay News

LETTER The Vatican's words and actions do not echo love 2021-03-18
- The LGBTQA community is responding with shock, anger and frustration at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith statement concerning same-sex unions. Many in our community can't understand why Pope Francis would allow such a ...


Gay News

Pope Francis documentary 'Francesco' to debut March 26 2021-03-16
- Pope Francis—in the news lately because of the Catholic Church's stance that it cannot bless same-sex unions, adding that it is "not licit" to bless relationships that involve sexual activity outside of marriage—is the subject of ...


Gay News

DignityUSA: Vatican denying same-sex blessings "Exacerbates pain and anger" 2021-03-16
--From a press release - March 15, 2021. DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church and society, is deeply disappointed by the Vatican's statement unequivocally denying blessings to same-sex coupl ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.