County clerks prepared to issue marriage licenses
Editor's note: This article was revised to remove some incorrect information provided by a county clerk and to correct when the law takes effect. Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry starting June 1, 2014.
County clerks throughout the Chicago area said Tuesday they are prepared and ready to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, especially because less than two years ago they went through the process of implementing civil unions for the first time.
Gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to marry June 1, 2014, and same-sex couples with existing civil unions can get a marriage license without paying a fee or can apply for a marriage certificate, also without a fee.
Since the Illinois' Civil Union Act went into effect on June 1, 2011, the Cook County Clerk's Office has issued about 4,000 civil unions, according to spokeswoman Courtney Greve.
She said when the office started issuing civil unions, the office's system got an update. That system, she said, is capable of producing marriage licenses for same sex couples with no new cost to taxpayers.
"Everything is ready to go. It's very simple," she said, adding that right now marriage licenses say "bride and groom" and civil unions say "Partner A and Partner B," so same-sex couples can pick whichever form they want.
Greve expects many civil unions will be converted to marriage certificates. In addition, she said, there will likely be a flood of people applying for marriage licenses who didn't get a civil union because they were waiting for full marriage to be approved.
McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz said she doesn't expect to see an onslaught of same-sex marriage license applications.
"When the civil union law was passed, we thought for sure that they would be lining up at the door," she said. "We had a couple, that was it. They seem to go in spurts."
McHenry County has issued roughly 75 civil union licenses since June 2011, she said.
Schultz doesn't foresee any problems with her staff's ability to handle same-sex marriage applications.
DuPage County officials say they simply need to modify some procedures to comply with the same-sex marriage law.
"We're prepared to implement it," said Paul Hinds, DuPage's chief deputy clerk. He said making the changes won't cost the office a lot more money.
DuPage has issued 384 civil union licenses. So far, 69 of those licenses were issued during DuPage's current fiscal year, which ends Nov. 30.
Lake County Clerk Willard Helander said in an email that her office can also accommodate the change without any significant implications.
She added that she is interested to know how the law will provide a process to convert prior civil unions into marriages.
Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham could not be immediately reached for comment.
• Daily Herald staff writers Madhu Krishnamurthy, Robert Sanchez and Mick Zawislak contributed to this story.