CHICAGO – While many Illinois counties are waiting until the state’s new same-sex marriage becomes law in June and others are waiting for legal advice, the list of counties that will start issuing the licenses immediately is growing.
Responding to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s letter to a central Illinois county clerk this week that said clerks were within their legal rights if they wanted to issue the licenses before June 1, clerks in Cass and St. Clair counties said they were doing just that. And the clerk in Jackson County said Thursday he, too, expects to start issuing the licenses.
“I intend to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses as soon as someone comes in asking for one,” Cass County Clerk Michael Kirchner said. “Waiting to issue the licenses until after June 1 seems trivial.”
Cook and Champaign counties started issuing the licenses before Madigan sent her letter, and McLean County has said it will start issuing the licenses later this month.
Meanwhile, the recipient of Madigan’s letter, Macon County Clerk Stephen Bean, said he will begin as soon as possible issuing licenses, perhaps as early as today.
Other county clerks have said they’ll wait – either for a legal opinion from their state’s attorneys or because they’re worried that issuing licenses before June 1 could trigger lawsuits against the counties and perhaps cause legal problems for the couples themselves.
“We don’t want to see something happen to someone later down the road if it involves a probate or divorce matter,” said Logan County Clerk Sally Litterly, who said she will wait.
In her letter to Bean, Madigan pointed to a federal judge’s ruling last month in which the judge determined Illinois’ original ban was unconstitutional.
Even though the judge’s ruling only applied to Cook County, the attorney general explained that other counties could move forward because “the protections guaranteed by the Constitution must exist without regard to county lines.”