Cook County Clerk David Orr on Friday announced that his office would begin issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples “immediately.”

Orr's announcement followed a federal judge's decision that gay couples should not have to wait for Illinois' marriage law, approved by lawmakers last year, to take effect on June 1.

“There is no reason to delay further when no opposition has been presented to this Court and committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry,” U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman wrote.

“I'm thrilled same-sex couples who want to get married won't have to wait any longer,” Orr is quoted as saying by Reuters. “We are very excited to celebrate this historic milestone with every loving couple from today onward.”

Downtown Chicago's Bureau of Vital Records will remain open until 7PM, two hours later than usual, to accommodate an expected rush of couples.

With Illinois crossing over from civil unions to marriage, Colorado becomes the only state to recognize the relationships of gay couples with civil unions.