The gay rights group Equality Illinois is asking county clerks across the state to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A federal court ruling requiring marriage licenses to be issued applies only to Cook County, but it appears Illinois’ other 101 counties may issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if county clerks are willing to do it, and the group is urging county clerks to do so, says chief executive Bernard Cherkasov.
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“Many of them are eager to also start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They’re consulting with their lawyers right now to see about the feasibility of it and what else that they need to get done. But there is definitely opportunity for them to do so,” he said. Cherkasov says he has contacted a number of county clerks, but would not say how many or which ones.
The law allowing same-sex marriage kicks in June 1. Cherkasov acknowledged that if county clerks wish to wait until the statute goes into effect, he can’t tell them they’re wrong, but he says if county clerks are so inclined, they can rely on this federal court ruling, which invoked the U.S. Constitution, to start right away.
In any event, same-sex couples living anywhere in Illinois may at this time go to Cook County, get a marriage license and have the marriage officiated there, and they will then be legally married under Illinois and federal law when they return to their homes in other parts of the state. Meanwhile, State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) has withdrawn a bill that would have attempted to re-ban same-sex marriage.