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Cook County, Illinois Must Immediately Begin Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

This past Friday, a Federal Judge in Chicago ordered the Cook County Clerk to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This follows the Illinois legislature‚Äôs passage of a law permitting same-sex marriage in Illinois on November 5, 2013. While the law was to go into effect on June 1, 2014, several couples in Cook County, Illinois, which includes the City of Chicago, sued the Cook County Clerk for the right to marry immediately. On Friday, February 21, 2014, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman agreed, stating that “[t]here 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.”

She ruled that the continued Illinois ban on same-sex marriage until June 1, 2014 violated the couples’ rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, and that the Cook County Clerk must immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Cook County Clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on February 21, 2014, immediately after the ruling. The ruling, however, only applies to Cook County, Illinois, and it is unclear whether other counties in Illinois will soon permit same-sex marriage as well.

For now, same-sex couples in Illinois no longer have to wait until June 1, 2014 to marry in the state, nor do they have to travel to Iowa, Minnesota, or one of the other states that recognizes same-sex marriage. They can apply for a marriage license in Cook County immediately. Please contact an immigration attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. if you or your loved one need advice on eligibility for an immigration benefit based on a same-sex marriage.

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