With a quick trip to the DuPage County clerk's office Monday, Roseann Szalkowski and Barb McMillan got to celebrate not only their marriage but their three-year anniversary.
That's because the Roselle couple have had a civil union since June 1, 2011, and on Monday -- the first day of legalized same-sex marriage across most of the state -- that arrangement retroactively was converted to a marriage.
"We've been married for three years, but we just didn't know it. Nobody knew it," Szalkowski said.
Dozens of couples lined up Monday morning at courthouses around the suburbs to mark the historic date by getting marriage licenses or converting existing civil unions to marriages.
Seven couples were waiting for marriage licenses when the Lake County clerk's office in Waukegan opened at 8:30 a.m. Monday. They hugged and laughed with each other, and a few shed tears in anticipation of the historic events about to take place.
Among the early couples were Shannon and Michele Fagiano of Round Lake Beach, who received the county's first civil union license in 2011. They were joined by their 7-year-old daughter, Riley, and Michele's sister, Kendall Welton.
"Now I can say bride or wife instead of spouse or domestic partner," Michele Fagiano said. "It's good. I like that."
Lake County's first license was issued Sunday, the effective day of the law giving everyone in Illinois -- regardless of gender -- equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities of marriage.
Dana Mills and Laura Danner of Lakemoor arranged the special Sunday meeting with Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, then were wed after receiving a judicial waiver for a same-day ceremony.
The June 1 date was important to Mills and Danner, Helander said, so she obliged their request to convert their civil union into a marriage.
Cook County and 15 downstate counties started issuing same-sex marriage licenses months ago, saying a federal legal decision allowed them to do so. Even so, 120 Cook County couples took advantage of the first date to convert their civil unions to marriages on Monday. Another 140 couples were issued marriage licenses, bringing Cook County's total for same-sex couples to nearly 1,800, Clerk David Orr said.
A supportive heterosexual couple handed out red cupcakes with white frosting to couples getting marriage licenses at the Kane County courthouse in Geneva, and members of the DuPage chapter of PFLAG gave roses to couples at the clerk's office in Wheaton.
Naperville residents Catherine and Jevelyn Verbic have been in a civil union since September 2012. Their dream was to get a marriage license by the time they turned 60.
"I'm 54, and she's almost 56," Catherine Verbic said. "So the world made it right under the wire for us."
Mike Gary said he's happy now because he and Michael Cannon are legally married -- just like their friends and family.
"Civil unions were something, but it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. I just felt like it wasn't enough," said Gary, 32, of Hanover Park.
Most of the couples in line Monday morning in Lake County already had civil unions. That wasn't the case for Alden Smith and Phyllis Gardner of Mundelein, who have been together more than 16 years.
"It's been a long time waiting," Gardner said. "We figured now we can, so we're doing it."
• Daily Herald Staff Writer Gilbert R. Boucher II contributed to this report.