- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - For Illinois residents, the most immediate impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide is that same-sex couples can travel out of state knowing their marriages will be recognized elsewhere.

Illinois has allowed gay marriage since last year. Whatever the outcome, the high court’s ruling was not expected to directly affect the Illinois law since the case was focused on court judgments and not unions approved by a legislature, as in Illinois. The ruling means 14 other states will have to stop enforcing bans on same-sex marriage, essentially approving it in all 50 states.

The freedom to move and travel was among the first things Illinois’ gay couples were celebrating after Friday’s decision.

Here’s a look at that and other key aspects of the ruling:

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ILLINOIS’ GAY MARRIAGE LAW

The Legislature approved a gay marriage law in late 2013, making Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex unions. Since the law took effect in June of last year, more than 10,400 same-sex couples have married in Illinois, according to an analysis of state records by the Equality Illinois group. Cook County Clerk David Orr says more than 7,500 marriage licenses have been issued in the Chicago area.

The ruling closes the door on any possibility - however remote in Illinois - that the Legislature could one day reverse the law if political winds were to shift.

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FREER TO TRAVEL

Prior to Friday’s ruling, Illinois couples could still have run into trouble in the 14 remaining states that had bans on gay marriage. If relocating, a spouse could be denied employer-provided health and other benefits, for example. And one spouse’s parental rights could be questioned. Others have complained the bans complicated everything from adoption and school enrollment to medical care and survivor benefits.

Among nearby states that had bans are Michigan, Missouri and Kentucky.

James Darby and Patrick Bova, who have been a couple for 52 years and are now married, said it was always a concern when they traveled to their farm in Michigan. They wondered if one of them would be allowed in a hospital room if the other was ill or injured.

“Now we don’t have to worry about that,” said Darby, 83. But, he added, “We will continue to carry the (marriage license) just in case.”

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TWO-PART DECISION

One of two parts of the Supreme Court’s decision specifically dealt with the cross-border issue, finding that same-sex marriages legal in one state must be recognized by all states.

The other part declared that gay marriage bans in four states - Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee - were unconstitutional, effectively making same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. A ruling upholding those bans could have sown confusion in those states that had bans struck down by federal courts and might have sought to reinstate them.

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FIGHTS LEFT TO FIGHT

Some advocates cautioned that while the court ruling sends a powerful message about equality, there are still fights left to fight. Illinois has specific protections against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in in employment, housing and public accommodations. But not all states do.

And not everyone is embracing the decision. Groups such as the Thomas More Society pledged to “continue to defend the rights of those who speak out and stand up for true marriage as the union of man and woman, freedom of speech and association, and free exercise of religious faith.”

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CELEBRATIONS

The ruling will give revelers at this Sunday’s 46th annual Chicago Pride Parade more to celebrate. Expect even larger crowds than usual at the parade and festival in the North Side Boystown neighborhood.

“There’s a big old happy dance going on in heaven right now,” said Patricia Ewert of Chicago, referring to her late wife, Vernita Gray, who died of cancer several months after the couple became the first to marry under Illinois’ gay marriage law.

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Associated Press writer Don Babwin contributed to this report.

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