No Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Yet in Northern Illinois

Mar 10, 2014

Northern Illinois counties are not so eager to follow the recent proposition set forth by State Attorney General Lisa Madigan that would allow counties outside of Cook County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the effective date of June 1, 2014.

Lisa Madigan

Madigan expressed her opinion following the Cook County federal court ruling of Lee vs. Orr. The court ruled that denying a marriage license to a same-sex couple facing terminal illness would be a violation of human rights and was deemed unconstitutional.

Madigan’s statement has led to confusion for neighboring counties because the ruling is specific to Cook County. While Madigan has given counties the green light to issue the licenses, several counties question how they can overstep the current law. Many counties seem worried about lawsuits being filed against them in the future if they proceed with early issuing.

Winnebago County Clerk Margie Mullins said her colleagues in the area are frustrated over same-sex marriage licenses. Local offices want to follow the law, but the state's rules are changing -- often in confusing ways.

"Just tell us what you want, but stick to your guns," Mullins told the Rockford Register Star.

Boone County Clerk Mary Steurer says that her county will not be issuing early licenses. “Unless there is a court order, we will be sticking to the law,” she said.

Some county clerks have transferred their files to their county’s states attorney for an opinion on the issue. Many county clerks like Steurer have said they will be following the law until it is effective on June 1, 2014.

Kane County Clerk John Cunningham also says his county will not participate in early issuing. “I do not agree with Lisa [Madigan],” he said. He also commented that Madigan is up for re-election and that he does not know what is motivating her politically.

DeKalb County will not be issuing early marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack gave a positive opinion on the issue.

For the time being, it seems that same-sex couples in northern Illinois will have to wait for June 1, 2014, to receive their marriage license.

LaSalle County may have taken the closest step forward on this issue. County Clerk JoAnn Carretto said they are in the “throes of updating their software.” She also said all related information on the subject has been turned over to the state’s attorney office for an opinion.