On February 21, federal judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled in Lee v. Orr, a case filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, that because anything other than full marriage equality is unconstitutional, the Cook County Clerk’s office must begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.
Lambda Legal posted the full memorandum and order, which reads in part:
On December 24, 2013, plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment  asserting that the Illinois ban on same-sex marriage frustrates the individual and class plaintiffs’ desire to marry in their home state by denying them equal protection under the law and infringing on their fundamental right to marry. Defendants, David Orr and the intervenor, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, do not oppose entry of summary judgment in this matter. For the reasons stated herein, this Court grants the motion.
The Illinois legislature had passed a marriage equality law in November 2013, but it wasn’t scheduled to go into effect until June 2014. Lambda Legal said in a press release:
We never stopped fighting for same-sex couples and their families in Illinois…But some couples, like Lambda Legal plaintiffs Pat Ewert and Vernita Gray, could not wait that long for equality—Vernita has terminal cancer. We went to court and secured rulings allowing Pat and Vernita and all other same-sex couples facing life-threatening illnesses to immediately receive marriage licenses.
But our fight for justice was not over. Every day that couples face this discrimination is harmful and unjust. Today, the federal judge agreed:
“This Court has no trepidation that marriage is a fundamental right to be equally enjoyed by all individuals of consenting age regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, and the public policy of this State has been duly amended to reflect that position.”
Finally, let the wedding bells ring in Illinois!
The law also allows those who are already joined in a civil union to retroactively convert it to a marriage; any couple already in possession of an Illinois civil union license will have the marriage license fee waived.
Cook County clerk David Orr told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, “We are very excited to celebrate this historic milestone with every loving couple from today onward.”