Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten on
Wednesday announced that he would begin issuing marriage licenses to
gay and lesbian couples immediately.
Cook County on Friday became the first
Illinois county to start issuing such licenses after a federal judge
ruled that there was no need to wait for a marriage law to take
effect on June 1. The ruling was limited to Cook County but marriage
equality supporters called on the state's 101 other county clerks to
in lawsuit among first gay couples to marry in Chicago.)
“On Friday, federal judge Sharon
Johnson Coleman held that the Illinois statute banning marriage for
same-sex couples is unconstitutional and violates the Fourteenth
Amendment's Equal Protection Clause,” Hulten said in a statement.
“The Illinois Attorney General and the Cook County Clerk were
parties to the suit. The precise effect of the ruling on other
Illinois counties is unclear. However, after consulting with State's
Attorney Julia Rietz, I have come to the conclusion that the
rationale of the case applies to all citizens of Illinois and that
Champaign County residents should have no fewer Constitutional rights
than those in Cook County. Furthermore, given the ruling, denying a
license to a same sex couple would provide no benefit to the County
and would likely result in litigation at taxpayer expense.”
“Therefore, effective immediately,
the Champaign County Clerk's office will issue marriage licenses to
same sex applicants, in accordance with the 14th Amendment, and the
Illinois and United States Constitutions,” he added.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality
Illinois, applauded Hulten's move and called on other county clerks
to follow suit.
“As we saw in the immediate rush to
the Cook County Clerk's marriage bureau after Friday's ruling, gay
and lesbian couples are eager and ready to take the step that not
only grants them and their family the legal benefits and rights of
marriage but also bestows society's recognition that their love is
equal,” Cherkasov said.
Champaign County is the 10th
most populous county in Illinois and is part of the Champaign-Urbana