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updated: 2/24/2014 6:24 PM

Same-sex weddings begin in Cook County

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  • Paul Dombrowski, left, and Joe Serio are married in their Palatine home Saturday by the Rev. Laura McLeod, a friend of the couple.

    Paul Dombrowski, left, and Joe Serio are married in their Palatine home Saturday by the Rev. Laura McLeod, a friend of the couple.
    Courtesy of Paul Dombrowski


Monday was the first day same-sex couples could get marriage licenses in the suburbs, but with the Cook County clerk's downtown office issuing licenses starting last Friday, the weddings have already begun.

Clerk David Orr announced a federal ruling Friday that allowed his office to begin issuing marriage licenses sooner than the June 1 date set for the rest of Illinois. As of 3 p.m. Monday, 80 couples had already received licenses.

Of those 80, the clerk's office announced, 44 were male, 36 were female. The youngest person was 18 years old and the oldest -- both partners of the same couple -- were 80.

Charlie Gurion and David Wilk were the first to get their license Friday, and the first to be married downtown early Saturday morning.

Gurion, 25, who grew up in Palatine, said he was working from his current home in Chicago when he saw the news about the court ruling.

He and Wilk, 31 of Chicago, hurried down to the county building and became the first same-sex couple to get their license. Friends and family saw them on television before they even had a chance to call them, Gurion said.

The two had planned a wedding for September, but Gurion said they thought "why wait?" and were wed at the Chicago courthouse as soon as it opened on Saturday. Immediate family witnessed the ceremony.

"Everybody was just very happy and excited. You could tell everyone was there out of love, and it was great to see," he said.

As a newlywed, Gurion said he's surprised by how marriage has changed his relationship.

"It does feel different," he said. "I feel like my relationship with David is even stronger already."

The two are planning a reception later this year to celebrate with friends.

"It's great to see that David and I's relationship isn't treated any differently than my (siblings') and their spouses'," Gurion said. "It's really amazing. It's something that I had no idea if it would happen in my lifetime, but I hoped it would."

Paul Dombrowski and Joe Serio, of Palatine, have waited 17 years to have a legal marriage in Illinois but said it was worth the wait.

The two were the 30th couple to get their marriage license downtown on Friday and were married in a ceremony at their home Saturday afternoon in front of 40 friends and family members.

In spite of some frantic wedding planning, it all came together in less than 24 hours, Dombrowski said.

"It was quite a celebration. It's been a long fight," he said. "To have it come up so suddenly after such a long road, it was very emotional and there wasn't a dry eye in the house."

The couple had a civil union ceremony on June 2, 2011, at Millennium Park in Chicago, and they will keep that date as their anniversary. But Dombrowski said marriage was the final step in their journey.

"It's real now," he said. "It's not anything different from any other couple's marriage. When we had our civil union, that was a great step, but you still had to explain what a civil union was. Now we're married just like anybody else."

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