Illinois law legalizing gay marriage takes effect Sunday statewide

For Sophia Jordan and Sara Weemes, it was love at first sight.

That was in 2005, when Jordan's brother introduced them at a party. They've been inseparable since then. A couple of years later, they moved together to Indianapolis. They talked about marriage after three years of dating.

"I just knew she was the one," Weemes, 31, said. "I haven’t felt that way about anybody before her."

They will take another important step in their relationship Sunday, when they exchange vows the day the Illinois law allowing same-sex couples to marry goes into effect statewide. They will be one of more than 30 couples registered for the non-denominational Married in Unity ceremony in the spacious garden at Rogers Park’s Unity in Chicago.

The couple picked up their Cook County marriage license on Wednesday so they can finally say "I do."

"We've been talking about getting married for a long time. We've had little obstacles along the way," Jordan, 33, said.

Initially, they wanted to get married in Iowa, which recognized gay marriage in 2009. But when they went to notarize their marriage application in Indiana, she said they were denied. They left discouraged, and tabled the marriage issue.

When they heard Illinois had legalized same-sex marriage, Jordan said she Googled information about events happening in Chicago and found the Married in Unity ceremony about two and a half hours away from them.

"We're excited," she said. "For us, it's forever."

The group wedding will be a celebration of equality, said Rev. Heidi Alfrey, Unity in Chicago's senior minister.

"The right to marry is the right that everyone should have, just like the right to vote and the right to go to school," Alfrey said.

The free ceremony will include same-sex as well as straight couples, couples who want to express their commitment and get a spiritual blessing without any legal documentation, and married couples who want to renew their vows. Vendors are donating flowers, cake and refreshments, she said.

"This will be the day people from Illinois will look back and say, 'This is the day our state has changed'," Alfrey said.

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