Same-Sex Marriage Now Available In DeKalb County

Mar 13, 2014

Same-sex couples in DeKalb County don't have to wait until June 1st to get a marriage license. That was the decision approved by a judge today, and means couples can begin applying for licenses immediately.

Civil Union supporters gather on the DeKalb County Courthouse steps during a 2011 rally.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A local couple sued the county for refusing to issue them a marriage license. Their attorney, DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson, and State's Attorney Richard Schmack came to an agreement, which was approved by Judge Ron Matekaitis. The couple was able to get their license today.

Johnson had initially refused their request for a marriage license, for fear of issuing a document that would later be deemed worthless. 

"If I had issued one prior to the court order or the law, the license would not have had any authority or rights with it. Now it is legally and procedurally correct."

A new state law allowing same-sex marriage is scheduled to take effect June 1st. But last month, a judge in Cook County said same-sex couples in that county didn't have to wait. Several other counties began issuing the licenses, too. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged other counties to follow suit, but some County Clerks were concerned about the legality of doing so. Johnson was satisfied that when the judge in his own county approved it, there would be no question about the marriage's legitimacy.

The couple plans to marry Monday. As of 4:00 pm Friday, no other marriage license requests had been submitted in DeKalb County. Johnson says that 61 couples have been joined in civil unions in the county since they became legal in 2011.