CHICAGO (AP) - More than 80 same-sex couples have gotten marriage licenses in Cook County, including some from other Illinois counties who apparently didn’t want to wait until gay marriage becomes legal statewide on June 1.
Cook County Clerk David Orr began issuing licenses on Friday after a federal judge ruled that Illinois’ original ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional so there was nothing to stop couples from marrying now.
But U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said the ruling applied only to Cook County, where Chicago is located, because the suit was filed against Orr. He is a longtime supporter of gay marriage who was barred from issuing the licenses until now.
Most licenses were issued to Chicago residents, although couples from Champaign, DuPage, Lake, Will and Winnebago counties also came to Cook County for licenses. Couples from Indiana and Wisconsin also received licenses.
Some who received licenses have already been married by a judge. Marriages must take place in Cook County within 60 days after the licenses are issued.
Both partners in the oldest couple to get a license were 80 years old, Orr’s office said.
Supporters of gay marriage said the ruling could be a signal to clerks in other counties that they also should start issuing licenses now, but some clerks said they’ll seek legal advice first.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the marriage law in November, has said he doesn’t think same-sex couples should have to wait until June.
Illinois’ first same-sex couple to wed - Vernita Gray and her partner of five years, Patricia Ewert - did so in late November after an expedited marriage license was granted because Gray was terminally ill with cancer.