CHICAGO (May 14, 2014) – Couples throughout Illinois are preparing for the statewide launch of marriage equality in Illinois on Sunday, June 1, now barely a half-month away, and Equality Illinois is working with the 102 counties to be as ready, open and understanding as possible in the performance of their duties.
Cook County and 15 other Illinois counties have already been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but haven’t been able to do civil union conversions.
According to an Equality Illinois statewide survey, an additional five counties will begin issuing licenses on Friday, May 30.
And, the EQIL survey found, five clerks have announced that they plan to be open on June 1, which falls on a Sunday and is not usually a county business day, to issue marriage licenses and the certificates that allow couples in civil unions to convert their union into a marriage.
Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, is talking with the clerks on subjects such as having the proper forms available and offering the civil union-to-marriage conversions regardless of what county the civil union originally occurred.
“This is a time of celebration in the Land of Lincoln, and all of us bear witness to this historic enactment of justice and basic fairness. We are especially happy for the thousands of Illinois couples and their families, some of whom have been waiting for decades for this moment,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
“Even as we celebrate, we are working to ensure complete implementation of the law across the entire state, and we will be vigilant defending against any attempts to dilute or weaken the rights of our community. There is much work still to be done to secure full equality in Illinois and around the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Cherkasov said.
A lot happens in the first few days of June 2014 regarding marriage in Illinois and the implementation of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Equality Illinois has reached out to all 102 counties since the freedom to marry became law in Illinois last November and is again in touch with the clerks as June 1 approaches to share information about the law.
Here is a rundown of what happens:
Sunday, June 1 – a. All provisions of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act are fully in effect throughout Illinois.
b. County clerks in all 102 counties are empowered to open and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and should have the appropriate forms to do so.
c. County clerks in all 102 counties are empowered to issue certificates that will allow a couple in a civil union to convert the union into a marriage, with an option to make the marriage date retroactive to the date of the civil union. The civil union need not have occurred in the county where the conversion to marriage is being done.
Monday, June 2 – a. As a Monday and a normal business day, this is the first work day that every county clerk must be issuing marriage licenses and civil union conversion certificates to same-sex couples.
b. Because of the requirement to wait at least one day between issuing a marriage license and the marriage ceremony, this is the first day that couples who received a license on Sunday, June 1 can get married.
Tuesday, June 3 – Because not every county clerk will be open on Sunday, June 1, couples that received licenses on Monday, June 2 can now get married.
Equality Illinois previously confirmed that these are the 16 county clerks who are already issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples subsequent to federal court rulings. The counties are: Cass, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Jackson, Macon, McLean, Ogle, Perry, St. Clair, Wabash, and Woodford.
According to a recent Equality Illinois survey of all 102 counties, these five county clerks said they will be open on Friday, May 30 to begin offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Clay, DeWitt, Johnson, Massac, and Morgan.
And, the EQIL survey found, these are the five county clerks who have said they will be open on Sunday, June 1 to issue marriage licenses and civil union conversion certificates: Champaign, Christian, Cook, Crawford and Montgomery.
As some clerks, especially in smaller counties, suggest reservations for getting marriage licenses, Equality Illinois advises couples to check with their local county clerk’s office first.
Illinoisans who have questions about the Religious Freedom and Marriage Act can turn to the Equality Illinois guide Marriage Rights in Illinois for helpful answers in a Q-and-A format. Also, if couples are searching for an officiant for their wedding ceremony, Equality Illinois has compiled a list of hundreds of clergy members from numerous denominations who are willing to officiate same-sex weddings. Both guides can be read and downloaded at www.eqil.org/marriage.