Cook County Clerk David Orr has issued nearly 1,600 marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the last three months. The rest of Illinois will now begin implementing marriage equality on June 1.
“On June 1, we will finally have full marriage equality in Illinois,” Orr said. “Same-sex couples who wish to get a marriage license will now be able to have one issued in the county where they live, without having to travel to one of the 16 counties issuing licenses in the wake of the Feb. 21 court ruling.”
While the Clerk’s Bureau of Vital Records offices – one in downtown Chicago and five throughout suburban Cook County – will not be open on Sunday, the offices will be open on Monday, June 2, to begin converting existing civil unions to marriages for same-sex couples, as well as issuing marriage licenses to couples who plan to have a ceremony.
Of the approximately 1,140 Illinois same-sex couples who have been issued marriage licenses since Feb. 21, 990 have been from Cook County and 150 couples have come to Cook County from 19 other Illinois counties. The remainder have traveled to Illinois from different states.
A couple must get married in the county where they have their marriage license issued.
When the marriage equality law was passed in 2013, lawmakers set June 1, 2014 as the date it would take effect. Clerk Orr began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex all couples on Feb. 21 of this year, immediately following a federal judge’s ruling. In those three months, 15 of Illinois’ other 101 counties have followed suit.
The judge’s February ruling did not address couples who had previously entered into a civil union and wished to convert that civil union into a marriage. Here’s what couples need to know about converting their civil union:
- Converting means the couple’s date of marriage will be backdated to their date of civil union.
- Both partners need to appear in person at a Clerk’s office to make this change.
- You must have your conversion completed in the county where you received your civil union.
- There is no charge for the marriage license for couples who already had a civil union.
- Marriage certificates, however, cost $15 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy.
- Couples will leave with their new marriage certificate in hand, no ceremony needed.
Couples may want to convert their marriage date to that of their civil union not only for romantic reasons, but also to reap what could be significant tax benefits that come with marriage.
Additionally, Get Covered Illinois, the state’s official healthcare marketplace, reminds newlyweds that marriage is a “life event” which allows them to make changes to their health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, all insurance companies must offer the same coverage to all married couples regardless of sex. This means married same-sex couples and their children may now enroll in a plan together in Illinois and may qualify for financial help on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Visit GetCoveredIllinois.gov or call (866) 311-1119 for more information. Representatives from Get Covered Illinois also will be on hand at the Clerk’s downtown office on June 2 to answer any questions newlyweds might have regarding health insurance.