As Illinois prepares for same-sex marriage, the evidence shows the concept of civil unions did not take hold in all corners of the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says in the 2½ years since the state formalized an array of benefits for such relationships, 10 counties still have not taken an application for a civil union.
They are Calhoun, Cumberland, Hamilton, Henderson, Mercer, Pope, Pulaski, Putnam, Scott and Stark.
Jonna Cooley, executive director of the Phoenix Center, which is the LGBT community center for Springfield, offering services for the LGBT/ HIV/Aids community, says from her experience growing up as a lesbian in the 1960s and 1970s in a small town in western Illinois, it doesn’t have to be sexuality – anything that’s different is looked down upon.
She says for economic, for race, or religion, or anything, when you have something or someone that is even perceived to be different, sometimes life can be pretty difficult.
Cooley says there are assuredly gays and lesbians in all 102 counties. They may have gone elsewhere to obtain a civil union license, so as not to appear in the local paper, she says, or they may simply have been waiting for same-sex marriage to be legal. That is to occur June 1, 2014, under a law the governor signed this week.