FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO (April 24, 2014) – Hundreds of clergy members in Illinois want to officiate at same-sex wedding ceremonies, newly possible under the freedom to marry law, and Equality Illinois helps the couples connect with the faith leaders in a new pamphlet.
The just-issued listing of wedding officiants joins the updated Equality Illinois guide Marriage Rights in Illinois as aids to help couples navigate the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act and answer one of the most frequent questions about it: Who will perform our wedding? The two pamphlets are available for viewing and downloading at www.eqil.org/marriage.
“While it is not required to have a religious component for any marriage in Illinois, many couples who have waited – in some cases for decades – to have their love recognized by the state also want to have their marriage vows sanctified in a religious setting,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
“Many clergy or religious institutions welcome same-sex marriages, so Equality Illinois created this listing, which we expect to grow, of faith leaders who embrace same-sex couples,” Cherkasov said. “Christian, Jewish, Muslim and non-denominational leaders from all corners of Illinois are represented in the guide.”
The updated Equality Illinois guide Marriage Rights in Illinois answers most of the other questions couples have about taking advantage of the state’s new marriage law, including how to convert a civil union into a marriage.
The law goes into effect statewide on June 1, 2014. Couples can already marry in Cook County due to a federal court ruling, which a number of other counties have also decided to follow. More than 1,000 licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Cook County alone, according to County Clerk David Orr. The counties now issuing marriage licenses, according to an Equality Illinois survey of all 102 Illinois counties, are: Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Jackson, Macon, McLean, Ogle, Perry, St. Clair, Wabash, and Woodford.
“As evidenced by the number of couples who have already obtained licenses, and the more than 5,000 couples with civil unions in the state who are likely to want to convert their civil unions into marriages, and the many questions we receive at Equality Illinois, couples throughout the state are eager to be married, and we hope these two guides will help them,” Cherkasov said.
As noted earlier, no religious officiant is required to perform a marriage; a marriage ceremony can be performed by a sitting or retired judge or by the Cook County Clerk, and some of the religious officiants may perform a non-religious ceremony. As they already do for opposite-sex couples, some clergy may have requirements for performing the marriages for same-sex couples, such as that the couples share the same faith or undergo pre-marriage counseling or classes. Depending on the clergy member, the ceremony may be in the house of worship or another venue. Equality Illinois advises that an interested couple use the contact information in the officiant guide to discuss these issues with the clergy member.
No clergy member or faith institution is obligated under law to perform a marriage or civil union ceremony.
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