Champaign County and Cook County are now issuing marriage licenses in Illinois
February 26, 2014
It's been a big week for the freedom to marry in Illinois: On Friday, a federal judge in the state ruled in Lee v. Orr, a class-action lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal, that Cook County must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately since the anti-marriage ban in the state is unconstituional.
In November the Illinois state legislature passed the freedom to marry and Gov. Quinn signed the bill into law - but the freedom to marry wasn't set to take effect until June 2014, and the same-sex couples involved in the lawsuit made the case that there was no reason these loving families should have to wait to marry.
Same-sex couples began marrying on Friday afternoon in Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago. Nearly one hundred couples married on Friday in Cook County.
Lambda Legal reacted this weekend, with Christopher Clark, counsel for the organization saying: "The wait is over! We are thrilled that the court recognized the unfairness of forcing same-sex couples to wait for months to marry. Justice has prevailed and full equality is no longer delayed for Illinoisans who wish to marry in Cook County before June 1st."
Clerk Gordy Hulten of Champaign County in Central Illinois, told BuzzFeed he would immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and that one same-sex couple had already come and gone with a license from his office Wednesday morning.
Hulten said that although the effects of the ruling on other counties is unclear, he and county attorneys found it applies to Champaign County because Johnson Coleman found that the state’s marriage ban on its face is unconstitutional and violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
“The Illinois Attorney General and the Cook County Clerk were parties to the suit,” Hulten said in a statement. “The precise effect of the ruling on other Illinois counties is unclear. However, after consulting with State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, I have come to the conclusion that the rationale of the case applies to all citizens of Illinois and that Champaign County residents should have no fewer Constitutional rights than those in Cook County.”
Last year, Freedom to Marry worked as a key partner with Illinois Unites for Marriage, the coalition working to pass the marriage bill in Illinois. Freedom to Marry provided strategic guidance and counsel on all aspects of the legislative campaign, in addition to managing the digital strategy for Illinois Unites and supporting newspaper and radio advertisements. Through the Win More States Fund, Freedom to Marry has channeled resources to Illinois to support grassroots field organizing and paid advertising.
We congratulate all of the happy same-sex couples and their families in Cook County and Champaign County celebrating this big week in Illinois!