DECATUR – Macon County will join other counties across the state in issuing same-sex marriage licenses ahead of the June 1 start date.

Macon County Clerk Steve Bean said Wednesday his office will begin to issue the licenses at the start of business hours Monday, March 10. The office will spend the rest of this week updating its software and giving the staff the chance to use the new system.

The decision comes after Attorney General Lisa Madigan responded to Bean's previous request for guidance after a federal judge in Chicago ruled Feb. 21 that restrictions against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. While the ruling only applied to Cook County, clerks in Champaign and McLean counties used the ruling to say they too would issue licenses before the law takes effect June 1.

Madigan told Bean on Tuesday evening that he and other county clerks were not bound by last month's ruling, but the attorney general's office expects clerks and county state's attorneys “to be persuasive” to other courts addressing the matter. If a couple sues an Illinois county after being denied a marriage license before the law otherwise takes effect, Madigan said her office would intervene on the side of the plaintiffs and argue that the denial is unconstitutional.

“I want to thank Attorney General Madigan for getting a quick opinion to me and other clerks across the state on the issue,” Bean said.

As of Wednesday, Bean said he has had some calls inquiring about same-sex marriage licenses, but he did not know how many licenses he would issue out next week. Several of the first Macon County residents who received civil unions in 2011 left Illinois to receive same-sex marriage licenses when other states legalized it. Other civil unions have ended in divorce, Bean said.

This story will be updated


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