Chicago couple eagerly awaits Illinois gay marriage vote

Thu Jan 3, 2013 7:46pm EST
 
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos' 8-year-old daughter, Ava, has learned about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in school.

So her school friends understand when she tells them her two moms are fighting for their civil rights to marry -- it's just hard to explain it to grown-ups sometimes, Volpe and Santos say.

"This is really for our kids," said Volpe, who along with Santos are plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding same sex marriage in Illinois. "It's important for them to be treated fairly. We're just as much a family as any other family."

Illinois could become the next U.S. state to legalize gay marriage with a bill set to be introduced in the state Senate this week. Gay marriage supporters in Illinois say they plan to press for approval in a Democratic-majority legislature in the next few days.

President Barack Obama endorsed the proposal to legalize gay marriage in his home state.

If it passes, Illinois would be the 10th state to approve marriage between same-sex couples. And Volpe and Santos could get what their siblings have already had -- a real wedding.

Santos, 47, and Volpe, 42, have been together for 21 years and have two children, Ava and 4-year-old Jaidon, conceived by anonymous donor. The women have owned a business that provides editorial content for publisher for 13 years.

Their large, conservative Catholic families -- Italian on Volpe side and Filipino on Santos' side -- accept their relationship. Volpe's mother, Barbara, lives with them in their spacious Chicago home. A recent Saturday found Barbara out fetching ear medicine for Ava, while the kids built a pillow fort in the living room near colorful wooden statues of the Virgin Mary.   Continued...

 
Mercedes Santos (R) hugs her partner of 21 years, Theresa Volpe, after a vote in a Committee hearing at the Illinois State Capital in Springfield, Illinois, January 3, 2013. Illinois could become the next U.S. state to legalize gay marriage. REUTERS/Jim Young