Fighting for Love and Marriage in Illinois

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August 29, 2012
Lambda Legal Plaintiffs Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos with their children.

Marriage says “we are family” in the way no other word does. Same-sex couples share many of the same hopes, dreams and values as their neighbors and friends. And marriage strengthens families, giving couples the tools and security to build a life together and protect their families. Many of the 16 plaintiff couples in our Illinois marriage case have seen firsthand how they and their families are hurt by their inability to marry. They are part of this case because they want to stand up for themselves and for same-sex couples throughout Illinois.

Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe fell in love 20 years ago and have been in a committed relationship ever since. They are both legal parents to their two young children Ava and Jaidon, and they live in Rogers Park, Chicago. Theresa and Mercedes yearn to marry not just for what it would mean for themselves, but for their children.

Once, Jaidon was rushed to the hospital, close to death as a result of kidney failure.  Theresa went with Jaidon in the ambulance, and Mercedes took the family car and arrived ahead of the ambulance.  Mercedes was given a wrist band and ushered into the pediatric ICU to await Jaidon and Theresa’s arrival. When Theresa briefly left the ICU and attempted to return , a hospital administrator refused to let her back in unless she said she was Jaidon’s “stepmother.” The administrator said a child could only have one “real” mother and Mercedes was already wearing the “mother” wrist band.  Admission to the intensive care unit was for “parents only.”  Theresa called Mercedes on her cell phone, and Mercedes had to leave their son’s side despite his condition in order to speak to the administrator herself.  Eventually, Theresa was permitted to be with Jaidon, but only with a “guest” pass instead of a “mother” pass. Hear more of their story in the short video below.

Lambda Legal is fighting for marriage for same-sex couples in Illinois because only marriage can express the depth and meaning of the lifetime commitment that these lesbian and gay couples have made to each other. Only marriage can ensure that they will be able to protect their families.

We are representing 16 couples across Illinois. They have been together between 6 and 48 years and ten are raising children. Learn more about their hopes and dreams, and pledge to support them as they stand up for their families and for all same-sex couples and their children in Illinois.

It’s just time, Illinois.