BREAKING NEWS: On April 2, Lake County Clerk Willard Helander called to let the couple know that, having received and reviewed their legal compliance letter, they have decided that they will, after all, issue civil unions to couples from jurisdictions where such unions will not be recognized.
News on March 30, 2012:
An Indiana lesbian couple has filed a complaint against the Lake County ( Ill. ) clerk's office after being denied a civil-union license on the basis of their Indiana residency, they said.
Gina Osting-Riddle and Andrea Riddle drove more than four hours from their Fairmount, Ind., home March 29 to get a civil union license in Waukegan, Illinois. But they were rejected, they said, because the clerk's office employees told them that their home state prohibited civil unions.
"I was crying after we left the courthouse," said Osting-Riddle. "It was like a Julia Roberts moment. ... We have one girl flipping her hair and telling me I'm below her standards."
According to Osting-Riddle, County Clerk employees told them that because Indiana prohibited civil unions, Lake County could not issue them a civil union certificate.
Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said that the law in Illinois is clear about allowing couples from other states to obtain civil union licenses.
"No state prohibits a person from entering a civil union," he said. "A state can say 'we don't recognize it.'"
Illinois has issued many civil union certificates to couples out-of-state, including Indiana.
Osting-Riddle and Riddle were granted a civil-union certificate in Cook County March 30.
Lake County Clerk Willard Helander was out of the office at the time of publication. A spokesperson for the office said that Helander was the only person who could comment on the allegations and would not be available to talk until Monday.
Riddle and Osting-Riddle have been together for three and a half years and are currently raising three children together. They are hoping to expand their family and decided to get a civil union in Illinois.
Osting-Riddle's father will start chemotherapy April 2, and the couple wanted to have their civil union beforehand. They brought their extended family to Illinois to witness the ceremony, scheduled for March 30.
The couple will continue with their ceremony, but will not legally be joined until March 31, after a mandatory 24-hour waiting period on their civil-union license expires.
Their ceremony will be performed by Rev. Deeya Roberts. Roberts and her partnerDayle Roberts, who is president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Palatinewere wed in 2009 in Massachusetts. They said they will be using their resources to make sure Lake County addresses the issue swiftly.
Cherkasov said Equality Illinois is in the process of drafting a legal compliance letter to the Lake County clerk's office. The couple is also contacting Lambda Legal. They have also filed a formal complaint with the Cook County clerk's office.
Windy City Times will update as details become available.