Chicago Same-Sex Couples Can Get Married! Don’t Rush to the Clerk’s Office Without This Important Info


I mentioned last week these case for marriage equality have taken many interesting twists and turns. On Friday, we got to see another unanticipated occurrence.

Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that same-sex couples in Cook County, IL (Chicago area) do not have to wait until June 1st to get married, as the law enacted last November originally stated.

Coleman wrote:

“there is no reason to delay further when no opposition has been presented to this Court and committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry.”

Coleman ordered last December that Cook County Same-Sex couples didn’t have to wait until June, if one partner faced a life-threatening illness.

I never thought it made much sense that Illinois lawmakers required same-sex couples to wait eight months to begin marrying. But I never anticipated a judge removing the stipulation all together. Judge Coleman rested her ruling on the premise that the denial of the licenses violated equal protection. 

Her most recent ruling only applies to cook county because the suit brought before her was against Cook County Clerk David Orr, who actually supports marriage equality. However, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called for other county officials to follow Cook County’s example:

“Every county across the state should enjoy the same freedom without having to wait until June.”

We’ll see in the coming weeks whether the other counties actually follow suit.

Rules you should be aware of before rushing to the Clerk’s office.

I also learned a lot more about marriage logistics from reading about this story. You other marriage newbies out there should know the rules before you head down to the Clerk’s office.

  • In Illinois, you have to obtain a marriage license before you can get married. Ben had mentioned this point to me before, but for some reason, it just sunk in.
  • The license is only valid for 60 days, and effective the day after it’s issued. So those couples getting their license today, can’t actually get married until tomorrow.
  • For those couples that planned to marry this summer, you will likely want to wait to get your marriage license. If you miss that 60-day time frame, you have to apply for another one.
  • Lastly, don’t forget $60 and valid form of ID.

If you want to learn more about the practicalities of getting married in Cook County or how to convert your civil union to a marriage, check out the Cook County Clerk’s website.

Congrats to Chicago for taking the final step to achieving marriage equality.  And good luck to all of those couples out there taking the leap!