Illinois will begin offering Civil Union licenses at every county clerk's office on June 1. The Cook County Clerk's office will open its downtown office early to mark the occasion.
"I'm thrilled this day has finally come," Clerk David Orr said. "This will be a joyous day for all couples – gay and straight – who want to make history as part of the inaugural group of civil unions."
The clerk's downtown Vital Records office will open at 7:30 a.m. Before 6 a.m., couples should line up outside the Daley Center's northeast door, located near Randolph and Dearborn Streets. The center, 50 W. Washington St., will open at 6 a.m. Couples should take the escalators down to the lower level (Pedway) and line up outside the Vital Records office, Room CL-27.
Civil Union licenses will be available to same-sex and heterosexual couples. The Clerk's office encourages all couples who wish to get a license on June 1 to visit the downtown office (not a suburban office). All couples need to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Not be related to one another;
- Have valid, current identification, such as a driver's license, state ID or U.S. passport;
- Pay a $35 license application fee. Cash preferred. MasterCard, American Express & Discover accepted. Personal checks and Visa will not be accepted.
Couples who are currently registered as Domestic Partners in Cook County will receive a $20 discount and their domestic partnership will be automatically dissolved.
Any couple planning to participate in a June 2 ceremony – including the Millennium Park event hosted by the City of Chicago, Lamda Legal, Equality Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Judges -MUST obtain a license from the Clerk's office on June 1.
A license is valid for a ceremony held within 60 days of the issue date. By law, couples must wait until the day after they obtain their license to have their Civil Union ceremony performed so June 2 is the first day Civil Union ceremonies can be held. Within 10 days of a ceremony, Civil Union officiants must return the completed license for it to be certified and recorded by the County Clerk.
Civil Union presents have been donated by 20 local businesses. The first couple in line at 7:30 a.m. will receive a gift package. Other presents will be distributed by raffle; couples in line by 7:30 a.m. will be eligible. The Clerk's office will invite all couples back to a party room for cake and chocolate, donated by Eli's Cheesecake and Illinois Nut & Candy.