Champaign County Waiting To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Early
By Sean Powers, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
Last week, a federal judge issued a ruling to allow same-sex couples in Cook County to marry ahead of June 1, when same-sex marriage will be legal in all of Illinois. That has raised questions about how the ruling affects other counties wanting to issue the marriage licenses early.
Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said his office only needs a couple of days to prepare to give out marriages licenses to same-sex couples. Following the ruling, he is waiting to see if he can do that early.
“From our perspective here in Champaign County, if there is demand for these licenses now, I don’t see any reason other than the legal reason of the law says June 1st to wait,” Hulten said.
Hulten said it is not clear to him if the ruling applies to other counties in the state outside of Cook.
“Well, it’s probably as clear as mud,” said Leon Finkel, a Chicago attorney who specializes in family law and matrimony.
“My thought is that this is the only ruling that applies to the Illinois statute and should be followed by clerks of other counties,” he added.
But Finkel said if a county clerk chooses not to begin issuing the marriages licenses before June, then a couple might have to sue to get a license early. According to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, last week’s ruling only applies to Cook County unless there’s further court action.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reports that Lake, Will, DuPage, McHenry and Kane counties will not be issuing the licenses early.
Since Friday, Cook County clerk David Orr said so far his office has issued 80 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Among those issued licenses, 44 were men and 36 were women, ranging in age from 18 to 80. Orr said 31 of the couples already had civil unions.
He said most licenses were issued to Chicago residents, although couples from Champaign, DuPage, Lake, Will and Winnebago counties also received licenses.
One couple from Indiana and one couple from Wisconsin also received licenses.