June 1 marks the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in Illinois, and a portion of the law allowing same-sex couples to backdate their marriage date to the date of their civil union will sunset, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Wednesday.
While backdating will end, couples converting their civil unions to marriages in Cook County will continue to receive a fee waiver, Orr said.
“Civil unions were the only option available to same-sex couples who wanted legal recognition of their unions before marriage equality became law,” Orr said. “Now that couples can convert their civil unions to marriages, they should not have to pay a second time to be legally wed.”
The change is in line with the language of the marriage equality law, which states that “for a period of one year following the effective date of (the law), parties to a civil union may have their civil union legally designated and recorded as marriage, deemed effective on the date of solemnization of the civil union, without payment of any fee.”
The last day to backdate a civil union is Friday, May 29, during normal business hours.
Illinois’ marriage equality law went into effect on June 1, 2014. Cook County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Feb. 21, 2014. More than 7,200 same-sex couples have been married in Cook County since Feb. 21, 2014, including 1,600 conversions of civil unions to marriages.
Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples may still obtain civil unions in Illinois. Same-sex couples who do not wish to get married do not need to take any action with their civil union, as they will not automatically dissolve or be converted to marriages.
Same-sex couples looking for more information on marriage and civil unions can find frequently asked questions and more, on the Clerk’s Marriage Equality webpage, www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/marriageequality.