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Survey: Over 5K Same-Sex Couples Have Married in Ill.

Thursday Jul 10, 2014
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Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.  (Source:AP Photo)

More than 5,000 same-sex couples have taken advantage of the new Illinois freedom to marry law to have their love recognized by the state and to enjoy the same rights and benefits of other married couples and their families, according to a new statewide survey conducted by Equality Illinois.

"It is heartwarming to see that thousands of couples have been able to get married who were denied that right just months ago. Love and commitment are what make a marriage, and our state now recognizes that reality. And thousands of loving couples and their children are protected by the new marriage equality law," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

Equality Illinois surveyed all 102 Illinois counties and found that at least 3,274 marriage licenses have been issued and 1,694 civil unions converted to marriages in every corner of the state.

In addition, the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which went into effect on June 1, 2014, automatically recognizes the same-sex marriages performed in other states, the District of Columbia and other nations, as marriages in Illinois.

"Some politicians cannot state that they will defend marriage equality and the rights of the couples and their children. It is important to note that such opposition translates into saying they cannot be counted on to stand up to defend these 5,000 families from discrimination," Cherkasov said.

Counting an exact number of same-sex couples who have obtained marriage licenses or converted a civil union into a marriage is a challenge because each of the 102 Illinois county clerks keeps records in a different way. Also, some counties, including Cook County, were able to start issuing licenses months before the law went into full effect due to federal court orders, and those numbers are included in the new totals.

The Equality Illinois survey also found that some county clerks combined the new marriage licenses and conversions from civil unions into one number. Other counties-including Will, Ogle, McLean, Kendall, and DeKalb-said they treat all marriages the same so do not keep a record of the same-sex marriages. If they had, the number of newly recorded same-sex marriages would easily be over 5,000.

Still, the Equality Illinois survey found that marriage licenses and civil union conversions were issued everywhere from the 10 licenses and conversions in Alexander County in the southernmost tip of Illinois to the 2,370 new licenses and 800 conversions in Cook County.

In the Chicago metropolitan area, there were also 50 licenses and 119 conversions in DuPage County, 42 licenses and 71 conversions in Lake County, 66 conversions in Will County (which did not separately count licenses issued to same-sex couples), 18 licenses and 25 conversions in McHenry County, and 36 licenses and 71 conversions in Kane County.

In some of the other counties around the state reporting a sizable number of marriages, there were 100 licenses and 45 conversions in Rock Island County, 116 licenses and 79 conversions in Sangamon County, 99 licenses and conversions in Madison County (which didn't separate the two categories), 108 licenses and 62 conversions in Champaign County, 62 licenses and 4 conversions in Massac County, and 45 licenses and 33 conversions in St. Clair County.

Of the state's 102 counties, five did not respond to the Equality Illinois inquiries. Nine counties reported no licenses issued to same-sex couples or civil union conversions

This article is part of our "Gay Marriage" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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