Chicago couple concerned about legal future

November 10, 2008 4:34:16 PM PST
Results from last week's election have a gay Chicago couple wondering about their legal future. A gay couple from Chicago was married in California this summer. But last week the passage of Proposition 8 in California redefined marriage as being between a man and a woman. So, like many gay and lesbian couples who took vows when California legalized same-sex marriages, they now wonder about their legal future.

The two sides in the campaign over the same-sex marriage proposition in California spent about $74 million, more than any candidates race other than the president.

Eighteen-thousand couples got married in California during the last six months since the California Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. Now, all those marriages could be in jeopardy, including a number of Chicago couples.

Demonstrators in favor of same-sex marriage are protesting the California vote by tens of thousands. They are marching in several West Coast cities and in Salt Lake City, because the Mormon Church reportedly funded much of the effort to overturn California gay marriage.

"The predominant theme is to overturn Proposition 8, which is discriminatory against same-sex couples," said Ian Thompson, rally organizer.

"What they're doing is despicable in going after the Mormon Church and religious institutions," said Bill May, same-sex marriage opponent.

For Sean McMillan the California protests hit much closer to home. He and his spouse, Clay Williams, live on Chicago's Northwest Side. But they got married in Orange County, California, in July. They have the license to prove it. They went before the clerk for the legal nuptials before hosting a wedding ceremony the next day, complete with elaborate invitations, flowers and cake, and guests from all over the country.

It was a joyous time, but since Election Day, they have been nervous.

"I'm looking at these little specific returns back in California and feeling like I actually lost something in this election," McMillan said.

The California Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages in the state beginning in May.

For now, the California attorney general says the 18,000 same sex marriages that took place this summer are still valid. But legal challenges could change that.

"It would take somebody actually taking it to court to argue that they should be invalidated," said

Many leaders in the gay community in California are already bracing for that legal challenge to the existing marriages.

Meantime, the election was a bad day for gay rights activists around the country. Two states, Arizona and Florida, voted to ban gay marriage. Arkansas voted to ban unmarried couples from adopting children.


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