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Wait over for same sex couples : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Wait over for same sex couples
First marriage licenses issued as new state law takes effect

by Tony Scott and Matt Schury


The Kendall County Clerk's Office handed the first marriage license to a gay couple shortly after 8 a.m. Monday morning, as same-sex marriage became legal throughout the state on that day.

Cook County began issuing marriage licenses early, because of a Feb. 21 federal court ruling, and a handful of other counties followed, with clearance from Attorney General Lisa Madigan. However, Kendall County officials stuck to the official start date of June 1 that was included with the law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn late last year.

George Burns and Tom Stark of Plano were the first couple to receive a marriage license at the clerk's office Monday morning, while Sue Anderson and Karma Jessen of Yorkville were the second couple.

Burns said the couple were united in a commitment ceremony seven years ago, and got a civil union three years ago.

"Our big wedding was our commitment ceremony - we've been waiting seven years for this to be legal," Stark said.

Burns confirmed "there's good benefits" to being married, when it comes to taxes, inheritance and other issues, but it's also "nice to be recognized."

Stark added, "When you tell someone, 'This is my husband,' (and they ask) 'Well are you legally married?' Yes, now we are."

Burns said being the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Kendall County was "kind of cool" but "we didn't plan on" being the first couple in line.

Anderson and Jessen, who have been together for 13 years, are having a wedding with another couple - a friend of theirs from church - at the Yorkville Congregational United Church of Christ in Yorkville on June 21.

Anderson said the concept of marriage was initially a practical one, but it's now much more than that.

"Initially, my greatest concern was my Social Security - that if I preceded (Jessen) in death, she would not get my Social Security," she said. "So we can do that now, and I was very excited. But from the day we started talking about getting married, and started planning our wedding, it's felt different. It just felt different."

Anderson said the couple has 140 guests attending their wedding from nine different states, and that she's told them that they didn't have to come because they've supported them during their relationship. But they are coming anyway.

"We're both feeling the love," she said. "It's an 'It's A Wonderful Life' moment."

Deputy Kendall County Clerk Rennetta Mickelson said that before Monday the office had a few same-sex couples calling and asking about converting their civil unions to marriages.

"They have to come in and the information goes on to a marriage license application," she said. "By converting to a marriage they have a one year grace period to do that without having to have a separate ceremony."

She added that the couple can retroactively keep their civil union date as their date of marriage. The $35 marriage license fee is also being waived for those conversions for a year.

There is a 24-hour waiting period, in the State of Illinois for any couple that is issued a marriage license. A judge, however, can waive that waiting period.

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