State News
7:04 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Champaign County second in Il issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses

Marissa Meli, 28, and Laura Meli, 27, have been in a relationship for more than eight years, and on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 became the first same-sex couple in Champaign County to get a marriage license.
Marissa Meli, 28, and Laura Meli, 27, have been in a relationship for more than eight years, and on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 became the first same-sex couple in Champaign County to get a marriage license.
Credit Sean Powers / Illinois Public Radio/WILL
Champaign County is the second county in Illinois to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples before June 1. That’s when a state law says same-sex couples can marry.  A federal judge ruled last week that Illinois' same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. That ruling applied to Cook County.

But Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten says after speaking with the local state’s attorney, he decided same-sex couples in the area can immediately get marriage licenses.

“We worked through this for four or five days including over the weekend, and I’m happy that we were able to be in agreement on a path moving forward. And we’re confident that what we’re doing is the right thing to do, that it’s legally justifiable, and we’re all very comfortable with this path moving forward.”

Despite the decision in Champaign and Cook counties,  a number of other downstate Illinois counties say they will wait until June 1st to issue the licenses for same-sex couples. 

Urbana residents Marissa and Laura Meli were the first same-sex couple in Champaign County to get a marriage license. They’ve been together for more than eight years, and they tell Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Powers that they’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.