More than 3,700 couples in Illinois have applied for a civil union license during the first six months since the law took effect, reported.

“The large numbers of people getting their civil unions is further evidence of how urgent these rights and protections are,” said Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov. “Every single one of these families, as well as thousands of families whose relationships are already recognized, also deserve federal protections and we must work to make that a reality.”

More than half (50.4%) of all licenses were issued in Cook County, which includes Chicago, the third most populous city in the United States.

Illinois' civil union law was approved by lawmakers after years of intense lobbying from activists. It went into effect on June 1.

A civil union law in Hawaii takes effect on January 1. Three additional states – New Jersey, Delaware and, most recently, Rhode Island have also legalized the union. Other states, including Washington, Nevada and California, offer similar protections through domestic partnerships.

Civil unions in Rhode Island have attracted few buyers; only 39 couples had obtained licenses as of last month, the AP reported. Rhode Island's law allows religious organizations to refuse to recognize the union.