* The Macon County State’s Attorney has refused to give permission to County Clerk Steve Bean to issue marriage licenses for gay couples in the wake of a federal judge ordering Cook County to grant the licenses.
Last week, Macon’s Clerk Bean wrote Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for guidance. You can read that letter and the correspondence between Bean and his state’s attorney by clicking here.
* From the Decatur paper [Fixed link]…
Bean said he was informed [a week ago] Friday by Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office not to issue licenses, as the judge’s order only applied to the Cook County clerk.
“Unless and until ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction, you … may not violate the standing law of the State of Illinois by issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples at this time,” the office’s statement said.
After receiving his first call Wednesday afternoon from a resident inquiring about getting a license, Bean again asked Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott to reconsider his opinion or to ask Attorney General Lisa Madigan to provide equal protection to all citizens of Illinois.
Scott said late Wednesday evening that his office’s position had not changed on the matter, reiterating it is a legal interpretation of the ruling devoid of any personal position. In a letter sent to the Bean on Wednesday evening, his office shared legal concerns about same-sex marriage licenses issued before June 1 that could later be challenged in a probate or divorce setting.
“There is a possibility that any same sex marriages occurring before the effective date … could be found invalid after the fact,” the letter states. “A declaration of invalidity of a same sex marriage in a probate or divorce proceeding could have far reaching ramifications.”
However, the letter states the attorney’s office can only advise the clerk, and it is ultimately Bean’s decision whether to proceed immediately with the issuing of licenses.
* McLean County is also issuing licenses…
Despite the lack of guidance from state officials, McLean County will be the third county to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael told BuzzFeed that she plans to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as late next week — a decision that comes just a day after Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten announced he would, under the court ruling, begin issuing such licenses.
Michael said her county will follow Hulten’s reasoning.
“I got ahold of our state’s attorney over the weekend and spent some time discussing this,” Hulten said. “They agreed with the Champaign state’s attorney’s opinion. But why wait go through [litigation] at the expense of the taxpayers? This will save a lot of people a lot of time and money.”
In his announcement, Hulten said he and his state’s attorneys concluded the Cook County ruling, which found the state’s statutory ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, should apply to Champaign County.
* Others are considering it…
In DeWitt, Smith said Thursday she hadn’t yet spoken with her county’s state’s attorney, who is handling a trial. But if he has no legal problem with it, she plans to issue licenses early.
“I will not do it until I discuss it with him,” Smith said. “If he has no problem with it, then I have no problem with it.”
Vermilion Clerk Lynn Foster said she consulted with State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar, who does not believe the county has the authority to change the date, because it’s not a “home rule county” like Cook. However, Foster said she wouldn’t be surprised if the state removes the date restriction, so her office has started making necessary changes in software and printing new marriage licenses if that happens.
“And I don’t have any reason to want to wait,” Foster said. “This legislation has passed, so I don’t see that there’s any reason why we should hold out.”
Foster said her office received a few calls Wednesday and Thursday inquiring whether Vermilion would be issuing licenses immediately.
* I called the attorney general’s office last week and asked about the matter. I was told there could be an announcement by Friday. Then I was told that some sort of announcement could happen Monday.
* It’s now Tuesday and Clerk Bean has sent another e-mail…
Last week Macon County Clerk Steve Bean wrote the Attorney General Madigan asking her office to guidance to downstate county clerks on the recent Federal Court decision on same sex marriages. Attorney General Madigan called me Friday afternoon about the letter. We are awaiting her guidance in how to procedure with same sex marriages. Like the Champaign and Mc Lean County Clerks I believe that all Illinois should have marriage equality fo all Illinois and not a single county.
I hope that the Attorney General will soon provide guidance to rest of the county clerks concerning marriage equality.
Aside from the spelling errors, he does have a point.
* I called the AG’s office again today and was told to expect something late this afternoon. So stay tuned.