The wait is over for same-sex couples in Illinois to marry. A new state law allowing such marriages went into effect over the weekend. That prompted many couples to line-up at their local county clerk's office on Monday.
Whether it was a court-order, or just a decision they made on their own, some Illinois counties began issuing same-sex marriage licenses ahead of the law's start date of June 1st. But most counties opted to wait. And when they opened for business on Monday, they began serving couples right away.
Winnebago County Clerk Margie Mullins says they encountered a few technical issues early. But my midday, she says those issues were resolved.
“People were very patient and we got everyone taken care of,” Mullins said.
Kane County Clerk John Cunningham estimates they had between 15 and 20 couples shuffle through during the first couple of hours. But he says his office was ready to deal with the extra demand.
Many couples showed up to convert their civil unions into a same-sex marriage license, a provision which is allowed under the new law. Some of those making that change said they held a celebration the first time, and that they wouldn't be holding another one. Still, they couldn't avoid the festive atmosphere outside, where people like Amy Frankel were doing the celebrating for them. Frankel and her husband were handing out cupcakes to couples as they exited the building.
“We just wanted to share in the joy and celebration that me and my husband were always able to do,” Frankel said.
Medea Rambish and Stephanie Howell were here to convert their civil union documents. Howell says it provides many extra layers of legal protection for the couple and their two children.
“Having the marriage is much more comforting,” Howell said.
Reginald Davis and his partner were not here to convert a civil union. When those were approved, they didn't get one because they felt it wasn't equal enough. So they decided to hold out until a gay marriage law was adopted. Even though they can finally apply for a marriage license, Davis says he still can't believe it.
“It is a dream come true,” Davis said.
Davis and his partner will head to the courthouse later this week where a judge will make their marriage official.