When Tony Aranda and Terry Beauchamp found themselves making conversation with each other at a restaurant 18 years ago as mutual friends bickered, they couldn’t have had any idea that one day they would, or even could, get married.
But that’s what they’ll be doing soon, since they got their marriage license at Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office Wednesday. Aranda, 50, and Beauchamp, 49, became the 10,000th same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license in Cook County Wednesday morning after they arrived at Orr’s downtown Vital Records office.
“The wait is over!” Orr announced to assembled media who had been waiting for the 10,000th couples since early Wednesday morning.
“We should take pride in this historic milestone,” Orr said. “The true measure of marriage equality, though, is that there really is no such thing as ‘same-sex marriage licenses,’ or ‘straight marriage licenses.’ There are just marriage licenses, the same for everyone. Every day now we see straight couples standing next to gay and lesbian couples at this office, all getting their marriage licenses, and that’s really wonderful and how it should be.”
“It’s great that it’s gotten to the point where it’s an everyday occurrence,” Beauchamp said.
“It’s the new normal,” Aranda added.
There have been many milestones along the way to 10,000 same-sex marriages in Cook County since Vernita Gray and Pat Ewert got the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in November of 2013, after Federal Judge Thomas Durkin ruled that because of Gray’s terminal illness, they would not have to wait for Illinois’ Marriage Equality law to take effect in June of 2014 to get married.
Federal Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman later ruled that any couple that was affected by a terminal illness could get married in Cook County, and in February of 2014 she ruled that any couple, regardless of health status, could get marriage licenses immediately in Cook County.
Orr’s office began issuing marriage licenses to any same-sex couple, including many from out-of-state, on Feb. 21, 2014.
The 10,000th couple was presented with an array of fabulous gifts donated to the Clerk’s office to help mark the occasion, including:
- A honeymoon package – including hotel accommodations, fine dining, and entertainment, provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
- Two round-trip plane tickets from Chicago Midway International Airport to their honeymoon in Las Vegas, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.
- A romantic dinner for two at Appellation Wine Bar and Restaurant, in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.
- A selection of ‘Thank You’ cards and stationery from Chicago-based stationery designer La Familia Green.
Orr noted that marriage equality means that there are other benefits same-sex couples can take advantage of, such as hospital visitation rights, tax benefits, and more.
“Things that straight couples have taken for granted for so long,” Orr said.
Who knew (18 years ago) that we’d be able to get married,” Aranda said.
Detailed maps and graphs with demographic information on the same-sex couples who had been issued marriage licenses as of Friday, August 19, can be found here.
A special “Journey to 10k” video produced by the Clerk’s office can be viewed here.