Judge: Gay couples can marry in Cook County right away - Fox 2 News Headlines

Judge: Gay couples can marry in Cook County right away

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Charlie Gurion and David Wilk received their marriage license in Chicago on Friday. (FOX 32 photographer Bob Pasquale) Charlie Gurion and David Wilk received their marriage license in Chicago on Friday. (FOX 32 photographer Bob Pasquale)
Therese Volpe and Mercedes Santos were married in Chicago on Friday. (FOX 32 photographer Bob Pasquale) Therese Volpe and Mercedes Santos were married in Chicago on Friday. (FOX 32 photographer Bob Pasquale)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Same-sex couples don't have to wait until June to get married in Cook County under a federal judge's ruling issued Friday.

"There 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," U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said in her ruling.

Friday's ruling in the class-action lawsuit against the Cook County Clerk's office affects only same-sex marriages in Cook County.

Cook County Clerk David Orr said his office will issue licenses immediately at the downtown office, and couples can get married as soon as Saturday.

Charlie Gurion, 25, Palatine, and David Wilk, 30, of the Avondale neighborhood, quickly took advantage of the ruling, becoming the first same-sex couple to apply for license Friday.

Gurion, who proposed to Wilk in August in Paris, first saw Friday's news on Facebook.

"We were actually planning to have our marriage in September," he said, "but things apparently are going to be pushed up a bit."

The clerk's downtown office will remain open two extra hours — until 7 p.m. — Friday. Suburban offices will begin issuing the marriage licenses Monday, he said.

"If the numbers are really significant, we will do our best not to keep you in too long a line," said Orr, standing in front of a banner that said Marriage Equality Begins Today at a hastily called press conference Friday afternoon.

"This is a day that's been a long time coming," Orr said. He said it was a historic day "in the sense that everybody can now be married equally, at least in the county of Cook."

Patricia Tucker, one of the plaintiffs in the federal court case along with Ingrid Swenson — the couple has a civil union ­— was overjoyed to hear the news.

"We've been married in our heads, now we'll have a piece of paper to prove it," Tucker said.

She said she and Swenson will begin planning a wedding soon.

"We were waiting to hear, so as soon as I get in touch with Ingrid we'll go ahead and make a date," Tucker said. "I'm assuming sooner than later."

Orr cautioned couples that the license is only good for 60 days.

"Don't rush to get your license if you have a summer wedding planned because you don't want your licence to expire before your big day," he said in the statement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly issued a statement that praised the judge's ruling.

"Today a federal judge affirmed that love does not discriminate and that all gays and lesbians in Cook County should have the right to marry," the mayor said. "Chicago welcomes all couples to get married here to celebrate their love and to have the bonds of their family acknowledged under law. I look forward to the day where every American enjoys the same freedom to marry, and when our country can provide equal rights to every man or woman – gay or straight."

Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal hopes the ruling encourages other county clerks "do the right thing" and allow same-sex marriages immediately, as well.

In December, Coleman ruled that same-sex couples in which one or both partners has a life-threatening illness don't have to wait June to get married, when Illinois' gay marriage law take effect statewide.

Before that ruling, Vernita Gray, 64, and Patricia Ewert, 65, became the first same-sex couple to wed in Illinois in November after they asked a federal judge for an expedited license because Gray has inoperable brain tumors and breast cancer that had spread to her bones.

Illinois became the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage, but the law was not to have taken effect until June 1.

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