Tag Archives: ceremony

Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Yes to be inducted into Rock Hall

The late rapper Tupac Shakur and Seattle-based rockers Pearl Jam lead a class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees that also include folkie Joan Baez and 1970s favorites Journey, Yes and Electric Light Orchestra.

The rock hall also said it would give a special award to Nile Rodgers, whose disco-era band Chic failed again to make the cut after its 11th time nominated.

Baez will be inducted only months after her 1960s paramour, Bob Dylan, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The hall’s 32nd annual induction ceremony will take place on April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. HBO will show highlights later, with SiriusXM doing a radio broadcast.

Shakur was shot and killed after attending a boxing match in Las Vegas in 1996, a murder that has spawned conspiracy theories but remains unsolved. “Changes,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” and “Life Goes On” are among his best-known songs. Only 25 when he died, Shakur left behind a trove of music that was released posthumously.

Pearl Jam exploded in popularity from the start in the early 1990s behind songs like “Alive,” “Jeremy” and “Even Flow.” After Nirvana, it is the second band with roots in Seattle’s grunge rock scene to make the hall. Behind singer Eddie Vedder and other original members Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam remains active and is a popular live act.

Vedder is no newcomer to rock hall ceremonies, having given induction speeches for Neil Young and the Ramones.

Baez was a political activist and mainstay of the folk movement, performing at the first Newport Folk Festival at age 19 in 1959. She was known primarily as an interpreter of others’ songs, introducing Dylan to a wider audience at the beginning of his career. Their affair ended badly in 1965, for which Dylan later apologized.

Baez’s own “Diamonds and Rust” in 1975 was one of her biggest hits.

Journey’s 1981 song “Don’t Stop Believin”” was given new life by being featured in the closing scene of HBO’s “The Sopranos” and became a favorite of a new generation. Its 6.8 million iTunes sales makes it the most-bought song on that platform from the pre-digital era, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Former singer Steve Perry, estranged from the band for many years, offers some potential rock hall drama: will he show up for his induction? Founding member Neal Schon was quoted in Billboard recently saying that there are so many non-rock artists in the hall that “I don’t really care about being there.” He did allow that it would be nice for fans of the band, never a critical favorite.

Britain’s Yes, known for its complex compositions, was a leader of the 1970s progressive rock movement. Yes’ hits include “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and its fans have waged a vociferous campaign to see them honored. Founding bass player Chris Squire, the one constant in many years of personnel changes, died in June 2015.

Electric Light Orchestra got its start melding classical influences to Beatles-influenced pop, and charted with “Evil Woman,” “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” The band essentially exists now in leader Jeff Lynne’s imagination and home studio and had a mildly successful comeback a year ago.

Chic, led by Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, has become the rock hall’s version of Susan Lucci and her long quest to win a Daytime Emmy. While Shakur, Baez, Pearl Jam and ELO were elected this year in their first time on the ballot, Chic has endured years of disappointment.

The hall’s award for musical excellence to songwriter and guitarist Rodgers is no consolation prize. When disco cooled, Rodgers became one of the hottest producers in the business, behind the boards for some of the ‘80s most indelible albums: David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and the B-52’s “Cosmic Thing.”

Hundreds mark 50 years since Malcolm X’s assassination

Activists, actors and politicians gathered on Feb. 20 in New York City to honor civil rights leader Malcolm X with a ceremony at the Harlem site where he was killed 50 years ago.

About 300 people gathered to hear remarks from one of Malcolm X’s six daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, as well as elected officials. The ceremony was held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom.

A blue light shone onto the floor in the exact spot where he was killed. A mural with images of Malcolm X adorned a wall.

“He was just a young man who gave all that he possibly could,” Shabazz said after a moment of silence marking the time of her father’s death.

Malcolm X, whose full name was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was 39 when he was shot in the theater on Feb. 21, 1965, as he was preparing to address several hundred followers.

By the time he died, the Muslim leader had moderated his militant message of black separatism and pride but was still very much a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of murder in his death. He had repudiated the Nation of Islam less than a year earlier.

In an interview with The Associated Press on the eve of the anniversary observance, Shabazz said she was pleased that the site is now a place for people to get a sense of empowerment.

“One of the great things about Malcolm is that he redefined the civil rights movement to include a human rights agenda,” Shabazz said. “So while we are focusing on integrating schools, integrating housing and all these other things, Malcolm said that we demand our human rights ‘by any means necessary.’ And that means … that we have to address these problems. That we have to identify them, and absolutely discuss them.”

Social and political activist Ron Daniels delivered the keynote address, calling Malcolm X a man of honesty and integrity. He ended his speech with chants of “Long Live Malcolm X!” as people stood and clapped.

The ceremony concluded with a reading by actor Delroy Lindo of a eulogy for Malcolm X that was written by the late actor and activist Ossie Davis.

Academy Awards nominees, the list

The Academy Awards will be held Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center, and broadcast live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET.

The nominees, announced on Jan. 15, include:

Best Actor

  • Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
  • Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
  • Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
  • Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress

  • Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
  • Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
  • Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
  • Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
  • Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
  • Edward Norton, “Birdman”
  • Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
  • J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
  • Laura Dern, “Wild”
  • Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
  • Emma Stone, “Birdman”
  • Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Cinematography

  • “Birdman”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “Ida”
  • “Mr. Turner”
  • “Unbroken”

Costume Design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “Inherent Vice”
  • “Into the Woods”
  • “Maleficent”
  • “Mr. Turner”

Directing

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
  • Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
  • Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
  • Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Foreign Language Film

  • “Ida,” Poland
  • “Leviathan,” Russia
  • “Tangerines,” Estonia
  • “Timbuktu,” Mauritania
  • “Wild Tales,” Argentina

Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “Foxcatcher”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Original Score

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Interstellar”
  • “Mr. Turner”
  • “The Theory of Everything”

Adapted Screenplay

  • “American Sniper”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Inherent Vice”
  • “The Theory of Everything”
  • “Whiplash”

Original Screenplay

  • “Birdman”
  • “Boyhood”
  • “Foxcatcher”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “Nightcrawler”

Best Picture

  • “American Sniper”
  • “Birdman”
  • “Boyhood”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Selma”
  • “The Theory of Everything”
  • “Whiplash”

Animated Feature Film

  • “Big Hero 6”
  • “The Boxtrolls”
  • “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
  • “Song of the Sea”
  • “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

Documentary Feature

  • “Citizenfour”
  • “Finding Vivian Maier”
  • “Last Days in Vietnam”
  • “The Salt of the Earth”
  • “Virunga”

Documentary Short Subject

  • “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
  • “Joanna”
  • “Our Curse”
  • “The Reaper (La Parka)”
  • “White Earth”

Film Editing

  • “American Sniper”
  • “Boyhood”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Whiplash”

Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome,” “The Lego Movie”
  • “Glory,” “Selma”
  • “Grateful, “Beyond the Lights”
  • “I”m Not Gonna Miss You,” “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
  • “Lost Stars,” “Begin Again”

Production Design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Interstellar”
  • “Into the Woods”
  • “Mr. Turner”

Animated Short Film

  • “The Bigger Picture”
  • “The Dam Keeper”
  • “Feast”
  • “Me and My Moulton”
  • “A Single Life”

Live Action Short Film

  • “Aya”
  • “Boogaloo and Graham”
  • “Butter Lamp”
  • “Parvaneh”
  • “The Phone Call”

Sound Editing

  • “American Sniper”
  • “Birdman”
  • “The Hobbitt: The Battle of the Five Armies”
  • “Interstellar”

Sound Mixing

  • “American Sniper”
  • “Birdman”
  • “Interstellar”
  • “Unbroken”
  • “Whiplash”

Visual Effects

  • “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
  • “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • “Interstellar”
  • “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

2 Iowa women marry after 72 years together

More than seven decades after beginning their relationship, Vivian Boyack and Alice “Nonie” Dubes have gotten married.

Boyack, 91, and Dubes, 90, sat next to each other during a weekend ceremony, the Quad City Times reported.

“This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago,” the Rev. Linda Hunsaker told the small group of close friends and family who attended.

The women met in their hometown of Yale, Iowa, while growing up. Then they moved to Davenport in 1947 where Boyack taught school and Dubes did payroll work.

Dubes said the two have enjoyed their life together and over the years they have traveled to all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada, and to England twice.

“We’ve had a good time,” Dubes said.

Boyack said it takes a lot of love and work to keep a relationship going for 72 years.

Longtime friend Jerry Yeast, 73, said he got to know the couple when he worked in their yard as a teenager.

“I’ve known these two women all my life, and I can tell you, they are special,” Yeast said.

The two women say it is never too late for a new chapter in life.

Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. Same-sex couples can legally marry in 18 other states and the District of Columbia. Campaigns are underway to overturn marriage bans in the other states, with a number of cases, including one from Wisconsin, pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many experts expect the high court to take up marriage equality next spring, with a decision on the validity of state bans on same-sex marriage coming in late June.

First same-sex couple marries in Illinois

In a short ceremony inside their Chicago apartment, two beaming brides made Illinois history this week as they became the first gay couple to wed under the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage.

The law approved last week doesn’t go into effect until June, but one of the women – Vernita Gray – is terminally ill with cancer, so she and her partner of five years, Patricia Ewert, were granted an expedited marriage license by a federal judge’s order.

The two made it official on Nov. 27 in front of more than 20 friends at their high-rise home on the city’s North Side. A Cook County judge officiated, and a close friend who deemed himself the “flower girl” tossed red rose petals and the couple kissed several times.

They were pronounced wife and wife.

“So happy, so incredibly happy,” Ewert told The Associated Press after the wedding. “We feel so blessed to have this honor bestowed upon us. I love my partner, my wife now, more every single day.”

When Illinois legalized gay marriage earlier this month, it was bittersweet for the couple, in their mid-60s. They feared that Gray might not live until the law would allow them to wed. They filed a lawsuit, and a federal judge allowed the two women, in their mid-60s, to get an expedited marriage license.

The mood was cheerful and festive Wednesday; Ewert wore a leopard print shawl that belonged to Gray’s mother and Gray donned a dark silky jacket. A friend sang Etta James’ “At Last.” The couple signed papers at the ceremony which was attended by many of the city’s gay rights activists; Gray has long been involved in the movement.

“Vernita goes back in our community. Everyone feels a friendship with her,” said Jim Bennett, the “flower girl” and a regional director for Lambda Legal, the group that helped represent the women in court. “That Vernita helped be the pioneer that leads us to this path was the icing on the wedding cake.”

Their legal battle could be just the beginning and may fuel efforts to change the effective date of the law, which Gov. Pat Quinn signed last week. Sixteen states, most recently Illinois and Hawaii, have legalized same-sex marriage. In Illinois, there’s legislation pending to allow the law to take effect immediately, and it could come up in late January when lawmakers gather in Springfield.

Quinn, who helped Illinois legalize civil unions in 2011, said if lawmakers sent him that bill, he’d sign it.

“I’d say the sooner the better,” the governor told reporters this week. However, it could be a tough vote since the original bill passed by a close margin.

The women filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month, citing Gray’s cancer as a reason to get a marriage license quickly. Then on Monday, a judge ordered the license and Cook County clerk officials hand-delivered it.

Lambda Legal officials said marriage means that Ewert will be better protected when it comes to taxes and other federal benefits not guaranteed with a civil union.

The two first met at a work event hosted by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and soon started dating. They were engaged at Christmas in 2009. Ewert said she was “immediately attracted” to Gray, who worked as a victims’ advocate in the Cook County court system. Ewert works for state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat.

But both women struggled with health issues; both have had breast cancer. Gray was first diagnosed in 1996 and underwent chemotherapy about the same time as Ewert.

However, things worsened for Gray, especially in June when cancer was found in her brain. A tumor roughly the size of a golf ball was removed from her head. It was also around that time when the women watched efforts to legalize gay marriage stall in the Illinois Legislature, which Ewert said was “terribly” disappointing.

The measure first passed the Illinois Senate on Valentine’s Day, but the House sponsor said he didn’t have the votes in his chamber in May and didn’t call it for a vote. He vowed to bring it back and did so earlier this month when it passed through his chamber by a close margin.

The June 1 date has created some headaches for county clerk offices since it’s a Sunday. Some have said they’ll be open for business that day, while others said they won’t have the resources.

Ahead of the wedding day, Ewert said she was happy to see the judge’s quick turnaround.

“Things went so much faster than we expected them to,” she said. “We didn’t expect there to be so much interest. We’re just two little old ladies from Chicago.”

United Methodist jury convicts pastor for officiating at his gay son’s wedding

A United Methodist pastor was convicted on Nov. 18 of breaking church law by officiating his son’s same-sex wedding and could be defrocked after a high-profile trial that has rekindled debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.

The Methodist church put the Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial in southeastern Pennsylvania, accusing him of breaking his pastoral vows by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.

The 13-member jury convicted Schaefer on two charges: That he officiated a gay wedding, and that he showed “disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church.”

The jury was to reconvene today (Nov. 19) for the penalty phase, where Schaefer faces punishment ranging from a reprimand to losing his ministerial credentials.

“Obviously I’m very saddened. What we’re hoping for tomorrow is a light sentence,” said Schaefer’s son, Tim Schaefer, 29, whose wedding led to the charges.

Testifying in his defense, the 51-year-old pastor said he decided to break church rules out of love for his son. He said he might have lost what he called his “ritual purity” by disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline, but that he felt he was obeying God’s command to minister to everyone.

“I love the United Methodist Church. I’ve been a minister for almost 20 years and there are so many good things about the United Methodist Church except for that one rule,” said Schaefer, of Lebanon.

Schaefer, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, could have avoided the trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.

The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The church’s lawyer, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the jury that Schaefer clearly violated the Book of Discipline. He said the complainant, Jon Boger – a member of Schaefer’s congregation – was dismayed and shocked when he learned this year about the ceremony.

Fisher used his closing argument to condemn homosexuality as immoral and said Schaefer had no right to break a Methodist law that bans pastors from performing same-sex marriages just because he disagreed with church teaching. He told jurors they were duty-bound to convict.

“You’ll give an account for that at the last day, as we all will,” he told the jury, to audible gasps from spectators.

Dozens of Schaefer’s supporters stood in silent protest as Fisher spoke, then linked hands and sang “We Shall Overcome” after the jury left to begin deliberating.

Boger, the church’s sole witness, testified Monday that he felt betrayed when he found out that Schaefer, who had baptized his children and buried his grandparents, had presided over a gay wedding.

“When pastors take the law of the church in their own hand … it undermines their own credibility as a leader and also undermines the integrity of the church as a whole,” Boger said.

“It’s his son. He loves his son. In a way I felt bad for him. But he’s also shown no remorse or repentance, nor has he apologized to anyone.”

When Schaefer chose to hide the marriage from the congregation, Boger said, “It was a lie and a broken covenant.”

But Schaefer testified he had informed his superiors of his part in the marriage. He said he kept it from his conservative church’s congregation because it would be divisive.

“I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church. I wasn’t trying to be an advocate,” Schaefer said. “I just wanted this to be a beautiful family affair, and it was that.”

Schaefer faced no discipline until April – less than a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire – when Boger filed a complaint.

Schaefer’s son came out to his parents at age 17, revealing he had contemplated suicide over his struggle with sexual identity and the church’s stance on homosexuality.

“He had heard messages that were hateful from the church, from the culture around him, that told him you’re not normal, you’re not valid, you’re a freak,” Schaefer testified.

The pastor said he and his wife told their son he was a “beloved child of God.”

Years later, Tim Schaefer asked his father to marry him.

“To say no to his request would have negated all the affirmations I gave him over the years,” he said.

Gay couples rush to be first to wed in Uruguay

A gay couple showed up before dawn to be the first to register under Uruguay’s new “marriage equality law,” but another pair was married first on Aug. 5 after getting special permission for a rushed wedding at a hospital where one of the men is dying of cancer.

“It was very emotional,” said Luisa Salaberry, the civil registry worker who officiated at the hospital wedding.

She said that the ceremony was intimate and that the government waived the usual 10 days of bureaucracy because the patient’s cancer was so advanced.

“They had been waiting for the law to take effect so that they could get married,” said Salaberry, who did not identify the couple.

Civil Registry Director Adolfo Orellano confirmed that the hospital ceremony was Uruguay’s first same-sex wedding.

Earlier on Aug. 5, TV producer Sergio Miranda and artist Rodrigo Borda, partners for 14 years, were the first to register.

“This is an historic day for us and for the country,” Borda said. “No longer will there be first- and second-class citizens. This will be seen in many countries where this option still isn’t possible, and hopefully help people in those places live more freely.”

Uruguay is the third country in the Americas, after Canada and Argentina, to legalize gay marriage. President Jose Mujica’s government also decriminalized abortion and expects senate approval soon for a government-managed marijuana industry.

“This will help so that many people can say, `I went with my boyfriend to walk in the park,’ and not have to invent that they have a girlfriend or something like that,” Miranda said.

“There are people who constantly live a double-life,” Borda added. “That’s why we’ve made this so visible, to show that it can be done. We’re in a country that has a very open mind right now – you can see it in the people and in the street.”

Borda said U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso is a friend who has been invited to the couple’s wedding.

The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires announced an “LGBT Go” campaign, inviting people to apply for up to 60,000 pesos (about $11,000) in grants for projects that protect and strengthen gay rights in Argentina.

Swearing-in held for Mass. LGBT youth commission

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick held a swearing-in ceremony for members of an independent commission seeking to improve state services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Patrick administered the oath of office on Jan. 9 to members of the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. The independent commission promotes better use of private and public resources.

Patrick, during the ceremony, highlighted progress made by his administration in improving the lives of LGBT youth.

“I am proud to join the members of the MA Commission on LGBT Youth to celebrate the progress we have made in improving conditions for LGBT youth and to look ahead at the work that needs to be done,” the governor said.  “We do what we do as a matter of conscience – all young people should have a chance to thrive.  In that spirit, we will continue to work with the Commission to promote healthy, safe environments for all youth, provide health education and services to meet the needs of the LGBT population and continue to affirm the dignity of every human being.”

Commission Chair Julian Cyr said, “Growing up as an ‘out’ teen on Cape Cod not long ago, there was no GSA at my high school and nearest LGBT youth resource was an hour drive away. I was fortunate – I had a supportive family and adult role models – but too many LGBT young people in Massachusetts are not. Gov. Patrick has been a true partner to the Commission and a leader for improving the lives of young people across the Commonwealth. We look forward to continuing that momentum as we work with state agencies to advance changes in service delivery and education policy to close the gaps that still persist for LGBT youth.”

Yale celebrates return of ROTC a year after DADT repeal

Yale University welcomed the Air Force and Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps detachments last week to campus, a return after a decades-long absence that was hailed as a historic development that would help groom leaders at a prestigious university.

Yale brought the ROTC units back to campus this fall after Congress voted to allow gays to serve openly in the military. ROTC hasn’t had a presence at Yale since the Vietnam War era.

“It’s a historic event for our militaries and it’s an historic event for our nation,” said David S. Fadok, commander and president of Air University, an umbrella of Air Force leadership training programs.

The ceremony was held on Sept. 21 on Yale’s Hewitt Quadrangle, in front of the cenotaph honoring Yale servicemen who gave their lives in World War I. Students in crisp uniforms marched into as a commander shouted “one, two, three” and a military band performed.

The Naval ROTC unit has 12 Yale midshipmen enrolled, while the Air Force has eight Yale cadets and 30 cadets from other Connecticut colleges who will train at Yale.

Juan M. Garcia, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, said the program would prepare future leaders for everything from wars to the ongoing fight against piracy to humanitarian missions that help prevent wars.

Yale President Richard Levin said Garcia recognized the symbolic importance of establishing a Naval ROTC unit on at least one Ivy League campus. “We’re glad it’s ours,” Levin said.

“It is truly a distinct pleasure to welcome you to this celebration of the arrival of Naval and Air Force ROTC units to the Yale campus,” Levin said.

Two other Ivy League universities, Harvard and Columbia, also signed agreements last year to bring back ROTC.

ROTC programs left the campuses of several prominent universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the fervor of student protests against the Vietnam War. ROTC was kept away more recently because of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which banned gays from serving openly in the armed services. The universities said the policy violated nondiscrimination rules for campus organizations.

The return of the ROTC renews a long military tradition at Yale. The inventor David Bushnell is credited with creating the first submarine ever used in combat while studying at Yale in 1775, and one of the original six Naval ROTC units was established at the university in 1926.

Students enrolled in the ROTC program receive scholarship money in return for agreeing to military service after graduation.

Students participating in ROTC say they have been welcomed at the campus.

“So far it’s been very well received here,” said Matt Smith, an 18-year-old Yale freshman participating in the Naval ROTC. “It’s something that is hopefully here to stay.”

Civil unions will be signed into law in Illinois on Jan. 31

Gov. Pat Quinn will make same-sex civil unions official in Illinois during a public signing ceremony in Chicago’s Loop on Jan. 31, according to openly gay state Rep. Greg Harris.

Harris was lead sponsor of the bill legalizing civil unions, which passed the state’s legislature late last year. The new law affords gay and lesbian couples official recognition from the state and many of the rights that accompany marriage, such as the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner.

Illinois law will continue to limit marriage to one man and woman, and the federal government won’t recognize the civil unions at all.

Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright.

Supporters say they hope civil unions will serve as a stepping-stone toward full marriage equality.

“The ultimate goal is not to be separate but equal,” said Jacob Meister, president of The Civil Rights Agenda, a gay rights organization. Meister said civil unions are a necessary compromise because they will provide important protections for gay couples.

But even advocates acknowledge it’s possible that by accepting civil unions now, they may be delaying movement toward being able to marry. The compromise could weaken any arguments that gay people are being treated unfairly by not being allowed to marry.

The sponsors of the civil unions bill said they don’t plan to push for legalizing same-sex marriages, which have limited support in the Legislature.