Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday attended a reception commemorating the first weekday that county clerks across the state can begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
The law that Quinn signed into law last November took effect Sunday. Only a few of the 102 county clerks statewide opened to issue the documents because the day fell on a weekend. So for many, Monday marks the widespread rollout of the law.
Twenty complimentary wedding ceremonies and receptions were held midday Monday at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Among them was the wedding of James Darby and Patrick Bova.
"Three years ago to this very day I witnessed Jim and Patrick’s special ceremony as they joined in civil union," Quinn said. "Now I’m honored to be in attendance as they take the sacred vow of marriage. We worked hard to make this day possible but we never lost hope that love would prevail in the Land of Lincoln. Today we celebrate full marriage equality for all couples across Illinois."
Several couples who went to Cook County Clerk David Orr's office early Monday were converting their existing civil unions into marriages.
"It's a fabulous feeling. It's an amazing feeling. I never thought this day would come. We're proud to be a part of this," said William Brannin, who has been with his partner, Darren Grogan, for 23 years. "It's the law of the land. I'm hopeful that soon it will be the law of the United States of America."
The pair were the first couple of 120 in Cook County to convert their records on Monday.
A total of 140 licenses were issued on Monday alone, bringing the total to 1,800 since Feb. 21.
Forty couples, both straight and same-sex, gathered together Sunday for a group wedding ceremony at Unity Garden in Rogers Park.
More than a dozen counties started issuing the licenses earlier this year after a federal court ruling, but most counties opted to wait until the law officially took effect June 1. Cook County Clerk David Orr is among them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.