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Chicago’s gay community ‘ecstatic’

Updated: December 7, 2013 6:40AM

Collin Wood was listening online to the House vote in Springfield that paves the way to make gay marriage legal in Illinois.

“As soon as they said 61 votes, it was like, it’s done, it’s over, let’s go and have a glass of champagne.”

And that’s what he and a lot of other Lake View residents did Tuesday evening.

“I’m ecstatic,” Wood said after toasting the bill’s success at Sidetrack on Halsted Street. “It makes you feel better to be able to experience what straight couples experience.”

The victory was still sinking in for Wood’s friend Tom Morris, who was in the visitor’s gallery in Springfield in June when an earlier attempt to pass the law ended in frustration.

“So I wasn’t sure if it would pass or not this time. When it did pass, I thought, ‘Finally,’” Morris said.

Danielle Tucker and Austen Crowder, both 28, were drinking champagne, kissing, hugging and celebrating at Sidetrack.

“It’s so great to have our state recognize that our love is equal to everyone else’s love. That’s exciting,” Tucker said. “I think that growing up as a gay kid you kind of just believe that there will always be things that you aren’t going to have like everyone else ... just having the same options as everyone else is an amazing feeling. It’s so wonderful.”

Doug Ferguson married his partner Chip Howard in Massachusetts in 2005.

“It’s much more special to have equality at home,” he said at Sidetrack. “It makes you feel good when your home state recognizes your relationship as good as [straight couples] instead of lesser than, it’s a special feeling.”

Ferguson has been with Howard for 16 years. He said the two will be celebrating with a dinner tonight.

For Shawn Hazen, manager of the Lake View bar Roscoe’s, the bill’s passage meant that “The state of Illinois is stepping in the right direction of history. “It’s not about gay marriage, its not about who loves who,” Hazen said. “It’s about equality, human beings being equal to each other.”

Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of the Chicago-based group The Civil Rights Agenda, was in Springfield when the bill passed.

“People are just beside themselves, very overwhelmed, and there are a lot of tears of happiness,” he said.

“This really is a step forward to being full and equal citizens in this nation,” Martinez said. “And especially for couples who are currently in a civil union. They are now able to have marriage and access to the over 110 special rights that go with that word ‘marriage.’”

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