Illinois Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage Into Law
by The Associated Press, with additional reporting from Illinois Public Media
Illinois is now the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Wednesday in Chicago that makes the state the largest in the Midwest to legalize gay weddings. The law takes effect in June when county clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011, but it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.
In addition to Quinn, the elected officials on hand included Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka, a Republican, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Urbana Democratic State Representative Naomi Jakobsson.
But the ceremonies at the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus were opened by U of I President Robert Easter, who reflected on the large LGBT community before the large audience.
"There is no ethnic majority among the 28,000 students," he said. "It's a student body that makes it Chicago's largest university campus. Diversity is as central to the UIC's mission as it is to its world class education and research programs. We are committed to building on it."
When 2013 began, advocates hoped Illinois would've been the 10th state, but watched as other states passed it. Hawaii approved it last week. Illinois' measure passed through the Senate in February, but the House sponsor said he didn't have the votes. It wasn't called until this month and passed by a very close margin.
The signing of Illinois’ same-sex marriage law means couples in civil unions can alter their status when it takes effect next June.
And for one year, a provision in the new law means the state will waive the fee involved with making that change.
Nearly 200 civil unions have been recorded in Champaign County since that measure when into effect in 2011.
Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said lots of those couples have asked about converting those relationships into a marriage.
"We will then issue them a marriage certificate," he said. "Basically modify their civil union record – convert it into a marriage. Issue them a certified record of that marriage so from that moment forward, they will then be married. And there’s a one-year period in the new law for folks who are in a civil union can do that for no additional charge.”
After June 1st of 2015, Hulten says the cost of a marriage license for those same-sex couples who are in civil unions - will be the same as it is for any other couple - $75.
He also plans to accommodate gay couples wanting to get married on the earliest day possible. June 1st of next year is a Sunday, but Hulten said his office plans to be open that day for those who call in advance to get a marriage license.