June 1, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Ill. same-sex marriage law takes effect statewide

Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Meagan Davis; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A law allowing same-sex couples to marry in Illinois took effect throughout the state on Sunday.

The Windy City Times reported a number of public events are scheduled to take place in the Chicago metropolitan area to celebrate the statute taking effect. These include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Equality Illinois on Monday hosting 15 same-sex couples who will tie the knot.

“It is such a historic moment for our state,” Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told the Washington Blade before the law took effect. “For the first time ever no matter where you live in the state these couples in loving, committed relationships will have their love and family recognized as equal by the law. And that means so much for people.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last November signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in February ruled gays and lesbians in Cook County, in which Chicago is located, could immediately begin to marry. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan a few weeks later said other county clerks could issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Cass, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Jackson, Macon, McLean, Ogle, Perry, St. Clair, Wabash and Woodford Counties have already begun to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Five additional counties on May 30 issued marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

The Windy City Times reported that Champaign, Christian, Crawford and Montgomery Counties will open their clerk’s offices on Sunday to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Cook County Clerk’s Office of Vital Records will not open until Monday.

State law requires couples to wait 24 hours from the time they receive a marriage license until they tie the knot.

Illinois is now among 19 other states and D.C. in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gays and lesbians in 29 of the 30 remaining states in which gays and lesbians cannot marry have filed lawsuits seeking marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

More than a dozen federal judges have ruled in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the DOMA decision. State courts in New Mexico, Arkansas and New Jersey have done the same.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in Illinois since 2011.

Gays and lesbians will be able to receive certificates from county clerks under the state’s marriage law that will allow them to convert their civil union into a marriage. They can also choose to make their marriage retroactive to the date into which they entered their civil union.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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