Wedding Bells Can Ring Earlier For Cook County Same-Sex Couples

Feb 21, 2014

Couples started receiving marriage licenses Friday, within hours of the Cook County Clerk’s announcement that same-sex couples won’t have to wait until June to marry. 

Credit Elsie esq / Flickr/Creative Commons

Clerk David Orr started issuing licenses when he received word that U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that gay couples in the Chicago area could marry right away instead of waiting for the new state law to take effect in June. A number of couples had sued Orr to allow them to marry sooner. Orr is a supporter of gay marriage and did not contest the suit.

Charlie Gurion and David Wilk were first in line and said they were “proud to be part of this huge, momentous day.”

The downtown Chicago Bureau of Vital Records will stay open an extra two hours today to accommodate marriage license requests from people eager to stop by after work. All Cook County offices will offer licenses on Monday.

Judge Coleman’s ruling only applies to Cook County. McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz told Chicago Public Radio’s Tony Arnold she’s waiting to see how the decision applies to her office:

Until there is something more definite given to McHenry County, and I would assume other outlying counties, we will go by what the state statute says.

Schultz added that even if she could grant marriage licenses to same-sex partners, she doesn’t have the proper state forms yet.

This isn’t the first time same-sex marriages are being allowed in Illinois: nine couples have married in Cook County already. They were given special permission because one of the spouses-to-be was terminally ill. Now the right is available to all Cook County couples, starting immediately.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the judge’s ruling and the County Clerk’s action. He also welcomed “all couples to get married here.”