John M. Becker

Marriage Equality Comes to Illinois, Three Months Early

Filed By John M. Becker | March 05, 2014 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Illinois, Lisa Madigan, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, wedding bells

illinois_equal.jpgYesterday Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general, told county clerks all across the state that they can and should begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately -- nearly three months ahead of schedule.

Madigan's move comes after a federal court decided last month to allow same-sex marriages in Illinois's most populous county and a downstate county chose to follow suit last week.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Madigan spelled out her position in a letter to the Macon County clerk's office, which sought legal guidance following a Feb. 21 ruling from U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. The ruling allows Cook County same-sex couples to get married now, before a state law on the matter that takes effect June 1.

In the letter, Madigan said other counties were not bound by last month's ruling, but that her office expects it "to be persuasive" to other courts addressing the matter. If a couple sues an Illinois county after being denied a marriage license before the law otherwise takes effect, she said, her office would intervene on the side of the plaintiffs and argue that the denial is unconstitutional.

Illinois passed its marriage equality law last November, but because it passed during a special veto session, it wasn't supposed to take effect until June 1, 2014. But U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled last month that there was no reason to delay marriage equality any further, especially since same-sex couples are being harmed every additional day that they're denied the critical protections of legal marriage.

Congratulations, Illinois! Let the wedding bells ring!

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