More than 10,000 same-sex couples married in Illinois await Supreme Court marriage ruling

Thu. June 18, 2015 8:57 AM

National recognition important even in marriage equality states

Chicago, IL - For more than 10,000 same-sex couples married in Illinois, the widely anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality is as important as in states where there is no freedom to marry, according to Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization.

"These couples may enjoy full marriage rights in Illinois, but if work, travel or retirement takes them outside the state, their married status and the protections that it provides them and their families can be put into jeopardy," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

Some of those marriages were by out-of-state couples who could not wed in their home states, so those marriages would be valid at home following a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality.

At least 10,407 same-sex couples have been married in Illinois since it became legal in the state, according to an Equality Illinois analysis of records provided by the Division of Vital Records of the Illinois Department of Public Health. During the same period, there were about 83,612 marriages between a man and a woman.

So about one marriage of a same-sex couple has occurred for every eight marriages of different-sex couples in Illinois since February, 2014, when Cook and a number of other counties began issuing licenses, and then since June 1, 2014, when the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act went into effect statewide.

The implementation of the marriage law also allowed for couples to convert their civil unions into marriages. About 3,199 couples have taken advantage of that, or about 31 percent of the 10,407 same-sex marriages that have been reported through April 30, 2015, the latest figures available.

The Supreme Court has two issues before it. It is deciding whether states without marriage equality must recognize the same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and whether all states must grant same-sex couples the right to marry under the Constitution.

"As gay and lesbian couples and our families await the Supreme Court's ruling, we are hopeful that the Court will recognize that constitutional freedoms cannot be taken away just because we cross state lines," Cherkasov said. "The nationwide recognition of same-sex married couples will also send a powerful message that we and our families should be treated equally and justly."

From press release