Meet The Illinois Couples

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LBGT people and people living with HIV.

The plaintiffs in our Illinois marriage lawsuit include 16 same-sex couples and their families from across the state. Their moving stories make it perfectly clear: it's just time for marriage equality in Illinois. Watch our campaign video, then learn more below!

Our Case: Darby v. Orr

Jim & Patrick


James Darby, 80, and Patrick Bova, 73, have been together for 48 years and live together in Hyde Park, Chicago. James, a proud veteran, was born on the south side of Chicago, where he worked in the stockyards before enlisting in the Navy to serve in the Korean War. He served 4 years before receiving an honorable discharge. James and Patrick wish to marry to better protect each other as they advance in life.

LaKeesha Harris, 37, and Janean Watkins, 38, have been together 11 years and are raising six children in their Rogers Park, Chicago home. When Lakeesha lost her full-time job and a roof collapse depleted their savings, she and Janean applied for housing assistance but faced repeated misunderstanding by administrators who didn’t know what a civil union was and were unsure if they could apply as a family. Janean and LaKeesha wish to marry to better represent themselves as a family.

Michelle Chappell, 45, and Michelle Franke, 46, of Champaign have been together 21 years. Together they are raising their daughter Rose who is 9. They want to marry to better protect their family.

Theresa Volpe, 41, and Mercedes Santos, 46, have been together 20 years and live in Rogers Park, Chicago, with their two children, Ava, 7, and Jaidon, 4. When Jaidon was hospitalized near death for kidney failure, hospital administrators barred Theresa from entering unless she identified herself as a “stepmother,” telling her Mercedes was already inside and Jaidon could only have one “real” mother. Theresa and Mercedes have been together for 21 years and wish to marry so that everyone knows they are both their children’s real mothers.

Bert & Lee


Bert Morton, 64, and Lee Korty, 53, of Springfield have been together 30 years. When Bert had a heart attack six years ago both men were frantic to be together during this stressful time and tried to explain their relationship to the hospital staff who barred Lee from Bert’s bedside. All the staff wanted to know was if Bert was married, and after 24 years together it pained him to say no.

Angelica Lopez, 36, and Claudia Mercado, 36, have been together for 14 years and live in Logan Square, Chicago with their children Isabel, 3, and Indigo, 6 months. Although Angelica and Claudia were happy to receive some degree of state recognition for their commitment to each other through a civil union, they yearn to be able to say that they are married, which evokes a legal, cultural, and symbolic meaning that is not encompassed in any other term.

Daphne & Ryan


Daphne Scott-Henderson, 41, and Ryan Cannon, 34, of Bloomington have been together for 6 years and are raising three children, Sonnet, 15, Autumn 11 and Sebastian, 4. When Ryan gave birth to Sebastian the hospital initially barred Daphne from visiting her son and refused to acknowledge Sonnet and Autumn as half-sisters. Ryan and Daphne want to marry to better protect their family.

Darryl & Jaime

La Grange

Daryl Rizzo, 47, and Jaime Garcia, 50, have been together for 11 years and live in La Grange with their daughter Siena,4. When Jaime needed an emergency appendectomy at 3 a.m., he and Daryl had to wait for Jaime’s brother to arrive at the hospital to sign various forms because the hospital didn’t recognize Daryl as Jaime’s family. Daryl and Jaime want to marry to protect their daughter and themselves in case of an emergency.

Lynne & Robyne


Lynne Burnett, 55, and Robyne O’Mara, 56, of Godfrey have been together nearly 32 years. When Robyne experienced chest pains the couple raced to the emergency room. The registrar who admitted Robyne asked Lynne who she was and after a lengthy series of questions the hospital staff still didn’t know what a civil union was or understand the couple’s relationship.

Patricia & Julie


Patricia Garcia, 54, and Julie Barton, 50, of Evanston have been together 20 years. Their daughter Olivia, 15, has often questioned the couple about why they aren’t married. She was crushed to learn that her government bars her parents from marrying.

Robert & Brian


Robert Hickok, 42, and Brian Fletcher, 52, have been together 12 years and live in Oak Park with their three children, Jack, 6, Hank, 3, and Ellie, 2. Despite their civil union, Brian and Robert carry numerous legal documents with them wherever they go, including powers of attorney and confidential adoption decrees, for fear that they and their children will not be recognized as a family. Brian and Robert wish to marry to secure their children’s future and to demonstrate, both to each other and to their children, the depth of their commitment to each other.

Peggy & Donna


Peggy Burton, 65, and Donna O’Crowly, 66, of Bloomington have been together 36 years. The couple, now retired, want to better protect each other as they grow older and worry that they are vulnerable because so many people do not understand what a civil union is.

Tim & Don

Alto Pass

Tim Rice, 50, and Don Julian, 51, of Alto Pass, have been together 18 years. The couple celebrated a holy union in their church in 1996 and 15 years later the same pastor united them in a civil union. The couple enjoyed a celebration attended by 150 guests including the village mayor and many family and friends. Even with a supportive community and family network they struggle to explain what a civil union is and it does not signify what Tim and Don mean to each other.

Anne & Laura

Rock Island

Anne Dickey, 37, and Laura Hartman, 34, of Rock Island have been together for 7 years and are raising a son, Theodore, 2. Although the couple entered into a civil union they knew in their hearts that it wasn’t “the real thing.” Laura and Anne belong to St. John’s Lutheran Church and are waiting to rejoice with a church celebration on the day they can marry.

Brandon & Kevin


Brandon, 31, and Kevin, 40, Bowersox-Johnson of Urbana have been together 10 years. Together they are raising their son Garrett who is 5. Before they adopted their son they celebrated a commitment ceremony to signal to their family and friends that their child was entering a loving and stable family. After they adopted Garrett, Kevin requested time off from work to which administrators replied, “but you’re the man—why are you asking for so much time off?” The couple want to marry so that others will better understand their family.

Bob & Hector


Bob Proctor, 49, and Hector Martinez, 49, of Peoria have been together 19 years. The couple could not bring themselves to enter into a civil union because it would not reflect the depth of feelings they have for each other.