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Couple celebrates civil union law

A Rockdale couple has “something old” picked out for their June wedding ceremony.

An antique John Deere tractor will transport groom Ray Welsh to the ceremony on a Lockport Township farm.

And when Gov. Quinn signs the civil union bill in a special ceremony Monday in Chicago, Welsh’s dream of living happily ever after with partner Patrick Dalton will have something new — a foundation in law. That is more than icing on the cake for the gay couple.

“It completes our relationship together,” Welsh said. “So now it’s not just a figure of speech that we are committed, and it will be recognition for us statewide.”

For Dalton, the law, which allows same-sex and opposite-sex couples some of the legal protections of marriage, is more than a civil union, it’s civil rights. “It’s important to the gay community, it really is,” he said. It’s not just us.”

Dalton, 29, and Welsh, 27, have been together for eight years. They plan to apply for a license at the Will County clerk’s office June 1, the first day the forms will be available. And they want to get married as quickly as possible in case the law is rescinded, which happened when California’s same-sex marriage law was quashed by referendum.

The Illinois civil union law won’t grant full marriage rights or recognition by federal authorities. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples who enter into civil unions will be able to: make medical decisions for each other, file a lawsuit for a partner’s death, receive pension benefits if a partner dies, dissolve the relationship in court and be considered legal parents of their children.

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