June 2, 2014 by Lynne Bowman, HRC Regional Field Director
Today marked the first day that marriage licenses were available for LGBT couples in every county in the Land of Lincoln. After months of waiting, hundreds of committed couples across the state flocked to their local offices to get new marriage licenses or convert their civil unions.
Although the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was signed into law last November by Governor Pat Quinn, the bill came postdated; no marriage licenses could be issued until June 1. In February, about a dozen counties began issuing licenses after a federal court ruling, but most counties in Illinois waited until the bill’s official start date. Although a few dedicated clerks opened their doors on Sunday for the momentous occasion, most couples found their long wait extended by one more day.
I got to spend my morning in Will County where three couples came together in the wee hours to wait for their chance at full legal recognition. Lining themselves up in order of the length of their partnerships, David Luecht and Mark Frost, Sara Lynn Bingham and Patricia Ferchland, and Richard Velez and Derek Berlin took their turns two-by-two at the clerk’s counter. Smiles and pens were passed around and years of waiting came to an end.
And then- after a little under thirty minutes of paperwork, hugs, and photos- it was all over. What had been a long and extraordinary journey ended in an amusingly ordinary way.
“Well… what now?”
“Now we eat!”
“Shoot. We can’t forget we need to pay our property taxes.”
If you’d like to get involved with the important work we’re still doing on the ground in Illinois or learn more about getting married in our state, email me at Lindsey.firstname.lastname@example.org