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Group: Civil Union Licenses Have Been Issued In 83 Illinois Counties

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago-based Equality Illinois has said 1,618 civil union licenses were issued throughout the state in the month since the law went into effect on June 1.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, since then, couples applying for civil unions represented 83 of the state’s 102 counties or just over 80 percent.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

“We were encouraged by the fact that so many people jumped at the chance to obtain a civil union license on the first couple of days,” said Equality Illinois spokesman Randy Hannig.

Equality Illinois officials said they contacted each of the state’s county clerks in order to arrive at their estimate. They also asked each clerk for feedback on the law’s implementation and, according to their press release, many clerks offered “stories about the excitement that permeated their offices, especially on the first day civil union licenses were offered.”

In addition to those couples who applied for civil union licenses across the state during the month of June, the organization says that many other Illinois couples who had entered into a marriage, civil union or domestic partnership in other states or jurisdictions prior to the law are now, in the eyes of their home state, also civil unionized here.

“I think the numbers are actually higher in Illinois,” added Hannig.”The licenses are also a revenue generator.”

Since most counties charge $30 for a civil union license, the same fee as accompanies a marriage license, the civil unions are responsible for approximately $48,540 in new state revenue.

Hannig says he expects the numbers to stay stable as more people enter new relationships.

Illinois’ civil union law was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn in late January in a ceremony attended by about 1,000 people at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The day after the law went into effect, both Gov. Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a gathering of 30 couples who exchanged vows in Millennium Park the day after civil unions officially became legal.

The law gives gay and lesbian couples official recognition from the state and many of the same rights that accompany opposite-sex marriage, including the right to inherit.

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