Same-sex couples in Illinois’ largest county can begin applying for marriage licenses immediately, according to a federal judge’s ruling Friday that some attorneys said could give county clerks across the state reason to also issue marriage certificates right away.
Illinois has legalized same-sex marriage, but the new law doesn’t take effect until June 1. However, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled Friday that same-sex marriages can begin in Cook County, where Chicago is located.
“There is no reason to delay further when no opposition has been presented to this Court and committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry,” she wrote in the order.
The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed against Cook County Clerk David Orr, who supports gay marriage. Coleman already ruled in December that same-sex couples did not have to wait until June to marry if one or both partners has a life-threatening illness. Several same-sex couples married after that ruling.
The ruling is here.
* The Tribune has Cook County Clerk David Orr’s plan…
Orr said he will keep the downtown Bureau of Vital Records, in the lower level of the Daley Center, open an extra two hours tonight – until 7 p.m. – to accommodate any couples who want to get a license after work.
Only the downtown office will issue same-sex marriage licenses on Friday. All offices will begin issuing licenses on Monday, he said.
Marriage licenses are valid for 60 days. “Don’t rush to get your license if you have a summer wedding planned because you don’t want the license to expire before your big day,” Orr said.
The $60 license fee will be waived for any couple who already has an Illinois civil union license. Couples who wish to convert their prior civil union date to a marriage will have to wait until June 1 because it was not addressed in Coleman’s order, Orr said.
* From Governor Pat Quinn…
“Many couples in Illinois have waited long enough for marriage equality, and today’s ruling means thousands of Illinois couples no longer have to wait.
“Our law is a victory for equal rights in America, and shows that citizens and lawmakers can come together on issues of fairness and human rights.
“I applaud U.S. District Court Judge Sharon J. Coleman for her stance in recognizing that ‘there is no reason to delay further’ giving all couples the right to marry in Cook County.
“Every county across the state should enjoy the same freedom without having to wait until June.”
Governor Quinn pushed for marriage equality throughout the 2013 legislative session. In 2011, the Governor signed into law historic civil union legislation. Since then, more than 6,000 couples from across Illinois have joined in a civil union. Prior to the Governor’s efforts, same-sex couples in Illinois had been denied many rights enjoyed by couples who are married.