CHICAGO (CBS) — Monday is the first day that county clerks throughout the entire state of Illinois must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of the gay rights advocacy group Equality Illinois, said a survey conducted mid-May indicates that all 102 counties are ready and that none intend to put roadblocks in the path of same-sex couples who wish to marry.
Cherkasov said a number of celebrations are scheduled around the state. In Chicago, 15 couples will be married in a ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art, with receptions afterward in the MCA galleries and sculpture garden. MCA and Equality Illinois are paying the bill.
In addition, it is the first day in which couples who already have a civil union certificate can upgrade to a marriage license.
Cook County Clerk David Orr said couples have the option of backdating the marriage license to the date of the civil union. While that can be important emotionally for many couples, Orr said there are a variety of legal reasons as well.
He said couples who upgrade will have retroactively obtained all of the rights and benefits of any married couple. For instance, they will have the right to make medical decisions for their partner, have access to survivor’s benefits and insurance coverage, and be able to file joint tax returns. Orr said many couples may wish to re-file tax returns from the date of their civil union forward and seek refunds.
In order to do change from a civil union to a marriage, both partners must appear in person at a clerk’s office in the same county in which they entered into the civil union. Orr said the change in status will be completed, and a marriage certificate issued, at no charge.
The offer is good “indefinitely,” Orr said.