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," said U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.
The ruling drew quick praise from Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and from Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest gay rights organization.
"Chicago welcomes all couples to get married here to celebrate their love and to have the bonds of their family acknowledged under law," said Emanuel. "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."
The Cook County Clerk David Orr kept the office open until 7 p.m. Friday for couples wishing to get their marriage licenses. A total of 46 couples came in for a license, Orr said.
The licenses, cost $60 and are valid for 60 days. The fees are waived for couples already in a civil union, however civil unions cannot be converted into a marriage license until June 1.
"This is a day that’s been a long time coming," he said.
Some -- like Charlie Gurion and David Wilk -- saw news of the judge's ruling on Facebook and became the first couple to get a marriage license.
"We were actually planning to have our marriage in September," said Gurion. "But things apparently are going to be pushed up a bit."
In December, Coleman ruled that a same-sex couple in which one or both partners has a life-threatening illness doesn't have to wait June to get married, when Illinois’ gay marriage law take effect statewide.
Friday’s ruling appears to technically affect only marriages in Cook County.
With Quinn's signature, Illinois last November became the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage, but the law was not to have taken effect until June 1.