The Illinois attorney general appears to be giving county clerks the go-ahead to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The attorney general issued guidance to county clerks in response to an inquiry from the Macon County clerk. She said that based on a federal court ruling, they can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. The court ruling Feb. 21 is binding only in Cook County, but she said the principle applies statewide.
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Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive of the pro-marriage group Equality Illinois, says this should open the floodgates. “From our conversations with county clerks literally all around the state for the past couple of weeks, we heard many of them who wanted to begin issuing licenses (to same-sex couples) who were waiting for some sort of additional clarification or guidance from the attorney general’s office. We do see this as that clarification they were waiting for,” he said.
The attorney general didn’t tell county clerks to issue the licenses, but she said if they don’t and they get sued, she’ll probably side with the applicants. The state statute specifies a June 1 start date for same-sex marriages, but the court said the delay between now and then is unconstitutional. Cook County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the day of the ruling; Champaign County began last week. McLean County had announced plans to start March 24. The governor, in a statement, said every county clerk in Illinois should quickly follow the attorney general’s guidance.