Converting Civil Unions Into Gay Marriages

Nov 8, 2013

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The soon-to-be same-sex marriage law in Illinois will not affect civil unions. But gay couples in such a union will have an opportunity to convert their certificate.

The same-sex marriage bill will be signed by the governor later this month and, barring any changes to the start date, won't go into effect until June of next year. However, the prospect of a long wait hasn't stopped gay couples in Illinois from reaching out to state officials. 

Melaney Arnold is a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health and Vital Records. She says their phones have been ringing off the hook.

“We have received numerous calls from people asking about conversion,” Arnold said.

Arnold says it will be allowed. She says in the coming months, her department will be working with county clerks to sort out the details.

The bill does state that in the first year of the new law, gay couples wanting to convert their civil unions can do so without holding a new ceremony or paying a fee. And if it happens within that one year window, the marriage would be retroactive to the date of the civil union.

Meanwhile, other observers say while they don't want to discourage gay couples in a civil union from seeking a marriage license, they say they might want to research how the change would affect their financial situation.