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Cook Co. Gay Couples Can Marry Now

Updated: Monday, February 24 2014, 11:33 AM CST

Sangamon county residents Lisa and Denise Bridwell are ready to be legally married now. The couple of 14 years has a civil union but has to wait until June, to convert to a marriage license. That's when the same sex marriage law in Illinois takes effect.

But gay couples in Chicago don't have to wait. Friday, a federal judge said there's no reason to delay same sex marriages in Illinois, when the state's law is set to take effect. The finding applies only to Cook county, where a lawsuit was filed against the county clerk.

"Everybody who wants same sex marriage in Illinois put in blood, sweat and tears equally. It doesn't matter what part of the state you're in. So it shouldn't be a matter of because you're in one county versus another, some people get to go before others do," said Lisa and Denise Bridwell.

Attorneys say the ruling could open the door to other county clerks statewide being able to issue marriage certificates right away. Sangamon county clerk Joe Aiello thinks that's exactly what will happen.

"I fully anticipate a second lawsuit to come forward... I expect us to be issuing these licenses prior to June 1. In fact, my director of vital records met with our information systems people [Friday] to move up the process to get ready sooner because we were targeting June 1st. Now we'll probably be ready for this to happen within a month," Aiello said.

The more than 6,000 Illinois couples in a civil union who want to convert to a marriage license must do that in the same county the civil union was issued. So couples in a civil union downstate can't go to Cook county to get married.

Lisa said, "If we could go to Chicago tomorrow and get a marriage license, we probably would do that if it would count here... but since it doesn't, it doesn't make it fair."

Lisa and Denise say they would consider filing a lawsuit for rights to marry immediately, now that Chicago couples can.

Forty-six gay couples got their marriage license in Cook county Friday, according to the office's twitter page.

According to state law, once you get a marriage license you have 60 days to legally marry.

Governer Pat Quinn applauds the judge's decision. In a statement, Quinn says many Illinois couples have waited long enough. He says every county across Illinois should enjoy the same freedom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cook Co. Gay Couples Can Marry Now

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