Interesting, news out of Illinois this evening. Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) Clerk David Orr has just made available "wallet sized marriage and civil union" certificates "tailor-made" for same-sex and opposite-sex couples with different last names, that they can carry in your pocket if there is ever a need for a couple to show legal proof of their relationship.
Although Orr states that,“Couples are routinely asked to prove they are married or in a civil union, whether it’s at the bank, the gym, the hospital, or the car rental counter,” the Cook County Clerk's new policy again shows the uphill battle that same-sex couples have to fight - even in a more progressive city/state like Illinois. Though the county is offering both pocket sized marriage certificates and civil union certificates, it is often assumed that if a heterosexual individual claims that they are the husband or wife of someone, then they are. For example, if a woman is rushed to the hospital because of a medical emergency, the nurse does not stand in front of the husband and say "prove to me that you are married". Yet same sex couples often come across situations where their relationship is immediately questioned - where, for example, a nurse might not allow a same-sex spouse/partner visitation rights because she does not consider them family.
Though David Orr means well (and these documents are probably an important thing for same-sex couples in Illinois to have), issuing pocket sized civil union licenses once again brings to the surface the reality that same-sex couples are treated differently in society based upon their sexual orientation. Hopefully in a few decades, we will not need such "pocket sized" certification, and instead it will not be questioned when one man says about another man, "He is my husband".