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Many same-sex partners in Illinois have been eagerly anticipating June 1, 2014. That is the day state law allowing same-sex marriage will go into effect. However, Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to speed up the process. She has been encouraging counties to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This encouragement comes in the wake of a federal court ruling giving the green light to Cook County same-sex couples getting married before June 1.

Madigan sent a letter out to the counties, explaining that although counties are not bound by the federal court’s ruling, the ruling should be considered persuasive. Madigan also stated that the attorney general’s office would intervene on the side of any same-sex couple denied a marriage license between now and June 1. She said the office would file briefs arguing that the denial is unconstitutional.

Despite the attorney general’s public support, it is not clear whether counties will act on her request. At least one county said it had no plans to issue same-sex marriage licenses before June 1.

Meanwhile, other people suggested the attorney general’s statements could lead to problems down the line. They suggest that pre-June 1 same-sex marriage licenses may be invalid. Part of the reason is that the federal court ruling Madigan is relying on likely applies only to Cook County. If these concerns turn out to be true, Madigan’s suggestion could make for a mess in future probate and divorce cases.

Whatever happens, same-sex partners should act carefully. Not doing so may result in unnecessary headaches over marriage, property and end-of-life decisions. To prevent those problems from forming, same-sex partners in Illinois may benefit from discussing their case with an experienced family law attorney specializing in same-sex partnerships.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Madigan: Counties can issue same-sex marriage licenses now,” Meredith Rodriguez, March 5, 2014