We are truly living in historic times for American gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry one another, with more and more states coming to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages each month.
Even in states staunchly opposed to extending marriage rights to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, government officials are beginning to personally challenge marriage bans in their own ways -- sometimes facing great professional risks by doing so.
In Illinois, the story is no different. Brad Opperman Pavone, a producer for "Oprah's Next Chapter," married his partner Luke Pavone in a beautiful civil union ceremony in Chicago in May. However, due to Illinois' laws regarding same-sex marriages, a civil union was the most the state would offer the couple.
That all appears to be slated to change over the coming months, with new polls showing dramatic support for marriage equality in the state of Illinois. The fall legislative session begins this week and marriage equality for the state is certainly an issue on the table.
"With Illinois same-sex couples suffering because they cannot access federal benefits available to married couples, the time is now in the fall legislative session for the House to complete its unfinished business on the marriage bill," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, reportedly stated. "With these poll results, there is certainly no political reason why representatives shouldn't pass it in overwhelming numbers. There are simply no excuses left."
While we wait for marriages such as the Pavones' to be recognized as legal, check out the beautiful civil union ceremony for the couple above -- just be sure to have a few tissues handy.