Same-sex couples exchange vows at Kane Co. courthouse
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org June 2, 2011 7:18PM
Marsha Walker (right) and Carrie Brecke, both of East Dundee, get their civil union made official Thursday at the Kane County Courthouse in St. Charles. Together for 20 years, they said it feels good that the state recognizes their union. | Brian Powers~S
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Updated: July 8, 2011 3:08PM
ST. CHARLES — About a dozen couples stood hand-in-hand, waiting for their turn to become united at the Kane County Courthouse Thursday.
But for the first time in Illinois history, four of the couples were of the same sex.
Most of the ceremonial details were the same between those waiting to be married and those waiting to have their civil union made official.
Just like those seeking marriage, Marsha Walker and Carrie Brecke, both of East Dundee, lined up at the county clerk’s office early Wednesday to obtain their license.
At 9:30 a.m., they were the 11th couple in line, Brecke said. They paid $37 in total to be wed at the courthouse.
“You have to wait a day — just like a marriage license,” she said, after a new Illinois law went into effect Wednesday allowing civil unions.
Brecke, a professor at Roosevelt University, and Walker, a retired teacher in Carpentersville’s District 300, have raised two children together. The pair has been together 20 years.
They met at a Christmas party. They had their first date at the Chicago Jazz Festival.
And just like those being married Thursday, Brecke and Walker entered Courtroom 311, where Judge Allen Anderson presided over their ceremony.
“If (the state) would have done this 20 years ago when we wanted, we’d look a lot better,” Walker said, laughing.
Anderson asked a second same-sex couple, Michael Bradley and Stephen Bova of Batavia, if they were prepared “for a life together based on respect, love and support?”
They replied they were.
Exchanging rings, Bova simply said to Bradley, “Here’s to another 20 years.”
“It was a big relief when the legislation was signed,” Bova said.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of false starts,” he said.
A third same-sex couple at the courthouse Thursday also had been waiting a long time to have Illinois recognize their union.
Donn Bofani and Jerry McManaman, both of Elgin, said they have waited for their big day for 40 years.
Brecke and Walker count themselves among the lucky gay couples — their families and employers have been very supportive of their union.
They are planning a reception for July, where four generations of their family will attend.
And like other couples Thursday, they’ll be celebrating on a honeymoon — at Hotel Baker in St. Charles.
“It seemed to weird to go home and do the laundry,” Walker said.
But unlike the man-and-woman couples married on Thursday, the same-sex couples lingered after their own ceremonies. They clapped as each couple came out of the courtroom.
Three of the couples even posed for a picture together afterward.
“I started to think, if we don’t get this, we won’t ever be seen as accepted by the rest of society,” Brecke said.
After 20 years, she and Walker said, they finally feel official.
“I’ve felt like we’ve been official for 20 years, but this is ‘official,’” Walker said with tears.
Although, Brecke added, they still want their union “to be federally recognized.”
But they’ll wait for that.
Because on Thursday, like the married couples, Brecke and Walker exchanged rings. They made their vows.
“I’ll love you forever,” Walker’s said to Brecke.