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McHenry County won't issue same-sex marriage licenses ahead of June 1

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 1:09 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 12:34 a.m. CDT

Last week same-sex couples could begin obtaining marriage licenses in Cook County, more than three months before gay marriage becomes legal throughout Illinois.

But don't expect McHenry County to issue same-sex marriage licenses before the June 1 date.

McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz said the county plans to "abide by state law" and will not attempt to issue licenses early.

"We're waiting until June because the ruling only pertained to Cook County," Schultz said.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that Cook County residents didn't have to wait until June, and that "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," she wrote in her ruling.

More than 80 same-sex couples have gotten marriage licenses in Cook County, including residents from Champaign, DuPage, Lake, Will and and Winnebago counties, according to The Associated Press.

Crystal Lake-based same-sex couples attorney Karen Lavin said she wished McHenry County would push harder to issue licenses early, but she wasn't surprised county leaders are sticking with the June 1 date.

"McHenry County is a little cautious on those things," she said. "I think it's all about politics. McHenry County is known to be republican and known to be conservative."

Schultz, who is not seeking re-election, said the judge's ruling does not give her the power to issue licenses early.

While Lavin has not heard from any clients who plan to travel to Cook County to obtain a license early, many are just happy to know the tide has turned on gay marriage in Illinois, she said.

"People are thrilled about it," Lavin said. "It's a huge change in the law. … I've been to clients' civil union ceremonies in the past, and I know those people are planning on making it official."

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