At least five more Illinois counties have announced plans to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately or very soon, but still more are holding off, even though state attorney general Lisa Madigan said this week that they don’t have to wait.
The state’s marriage equality law, approved last fall, was originally set to go into effect June 1, but a federal judge ruled in Chicago ruled in February that there was no reason for Cook County, which includes Chicago, to have to wait until then to grant licenses. Since her ruling applied only to Cook County, officials in some other counties wondered if they had the go-ahead to issue licenses, and Madigan released a letter Tuesday saying they could proceed.
Champaign County, home to the main campus of the University of Illinois, had already joined Cook County in licensing same-sex marriages, but the clerks of St. Clair County and Cass County now say they will begin accepting applications for the licenses immediately, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Macon County, whose clerk made the inquiry to Madigan, will begin doing so Monday, and McLean County March 24. The clerk of Jackson County expects to follow suit soon. These counties are a mix of urban and rural areas and include some college towns.
Some county clerks who are holding off said they feared the legality of licenses issued before June 1 could be challenged, but those who plan to take applications say they’ll have safeguards in place. “We are at this time taking applications that will be reviewed by our state’s attorney and he will determine whether we have the legal authority,” St. Clair County clerk Tom Holbrook told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Counties where officials say they’ll wait until June, or at least for further legal guidance, before issuing licenses include Adams, Brown, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, Hancock, Henry, Knox, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, Pike, Rock Island, Whiteside, Will, and Winnebago, according to various media reports.