Updated: December 12, 2011 5:41PM
At least 3,729 couples secured licenses through the first six months that civil unions have been legal in Illinois, according to a statewide GLBT rights group.
Of the state’s 102 counties, 90 counties reported at least one license was issued, Equality Illinois said.
In addition to the 3,729 couples who applied for civil union licenses from June 1 to November 30, thousands of other couples’ relationships were recognized as civil unions in the state, the release from Equality Illlinois said. Same-sex couples who entered a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership in another jurisdiction automatically had their relationships recognized as a civil union in Illinois on June 1.
“That so many couples secured licenses in the first six months after they became available on June 1 demonstrated the importance that families placed on the protections it provided,” Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said. “The fact that the figure grew to 3,729 civil unions licenses in the half year indicates a strong, ongoing desire for same-sex families to not only secure the legal recognition of government and the affirmation of their relationship from employers, family and friends but also the equal rights that civil unions guarantee.”
Equality Illinois contacted each county clerk to get the count of civil union licenses. There were 1,878 licenses issued in Cook County, 658 in the five collar counties (DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will) and 1,193 in the rest of Illinois. (Kane County reported civil union licenses issued June 1 – October 31.)
“As we can see from these numbers and the range of locales, same-sex couples make their homes in all parts of Illinois,” Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois said. “This recognition will have significant implications as state and local public officials deal with family law issues and members of Congress consider the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The group notes though that the civil unions law has had to withstand atttempts by opponents to attack it and dilute protections for families.
“There was intense pressure in the General Assembly in Springfield and the courts to weaken it, and, with our allies, we fought back each time,” Hannig said. “We expect opponents to continue to try to weaken family protections during 2012 even as more same-sex couples are joined together in civil unions, and we will remain vigilant.”