Marriage Equality Takes Effect in Illinois

The day marks the first day all of 102 counties in Illinois can issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Same-sex couples in Illinois will soon be able to legally wed.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation last year allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois, and the law takes effect June 1.

The day marks the first day all of 102 counties in Illinois can issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples and couples with civil unions can convert to marriage.

Several Illinois counties have already been issuing marriage licenses after a federal court ruling in February, however, many consider Sunday a historical day for the state.

“Today is a special day and I thank everyone who worked so hard to pass marriage equality and put Illinois on right side of history,” Quinn said in a statement. “All couples across Illinois can now receive the rights and protections under the sacred vow of marriage. The Land of Lincoln has always been a place to embrace all people and today we stand as an example for the rest of the nation.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr said he has already issued nearly 1,600 marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the last three months, though officials said the office will not be open Sunday and will resume issuing marriage licenses Monday.

Wedding planners said the industry is seeing a major boost as excitement over marriage equality booms.

“We’ve seen a huge uptick already,” said Tracy Baim, owner of Keith House in Chicago’s South Loop. “Really it’s a pent up demand. We have people together 30-40 years that never had a chance to get married.”

Baim says she’s seen about a 20-percent increase in her bookings and economists predict big money in Illinois thanks to a same-sex wedding boom.

“Between 50 and 100 million dollars in economy for all things associated with weddings whether that’s hotels or the booking, the venue, the flower, the bakeries,” Baim said.

Wedding planners point out that many of the same-sex couples set to hear wedding bells are older, established couples with money to spend on the occasion.

At luxury hotel JW Marriott in the Loop, a new sales package includes “Jeff and Jeff”—the first gay couple to get married at the venue last year.

The package includes an elegant array of food and the venue has even planned for cake toppers with two men or two women.

“We wanted to make sure when couples came they had something that spoke to them,” said Miranda Thomas with the JW Marriott Hotel. “They’re not trying to fit in to a segment they don’t belong.”

Illinois' health insurance marketplace is allowing gay and lesbian couples to enroll for private coverage.

Get Covered Illinois announced it will open up special enrollment periods for gay couples.

Married same-sex couples and their children can enroll as a family and may qualify for financial help.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer the same coverage to people in same-sex marriages as they do to opposite-sex spouses.

Under the law, marriage is a qualifying life event that makes people eligible for a special enrollment period. The period lasts two months in the state's marketplace and one month under an employer's marketplace plan.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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