Couples, wedding planners gear up for same-sex marriages in Illinois

Legal in Iowa for years, same-sex marriage is set to become legal in the Land of Lincoln. Governor Quinn said he will sign the bill legalizing same-sex marriage by the end of the month.

While the bill makes same sex marriage legal in Illinois, it also means civil unions could be converted to marriages within a year of the law going into effect.

Weddings could start in June, something both gay couples and wedding planners are welcoming.

Clayton Peterson and his partner were together for 30 years before they were married in Iowa in September 2009.

“I was sorry that it couldn’t be in Illinois, that it had to be in Iowa,” said Peterson.

Peterson’s home state, the place the two call home, not allowing same sex couples to marry until Tuesday, November 5, 2013 when both the Illinois House and Senate passed the Illinois Marriage Equality Bill.

“I was elated,” said Peterson.

The bill is now on Governor Quinn’s Desk. He plans to sign the bill by the end of the month, but wants to make sure everyone involved in passing the bill can attend the signing.

“I think it’s important for people to have an opportunity who worked so hard in the community to pass marriage equality to have an opportunity to be there at the bill’s signing,” said Governor Pat Quinn.

With the Governor’s signature, same sex marriage licenses can be issued June 1, 2014—just in time for wedding season.

“It can do nothing but help and benefit our business,” said Tamara Wendt, a wedding and event designer in Moline.

“I think you’ll see a surge, you know in that industry as a whole across the board with gay marriages,” she said, “I welcome the challenge.”

Opponents of the bill say the bill does not do enough to protect religious freedoms and beliefs.

But for Peterson and his partner, and many other couples, it is a chance to be recognized in the place they call home.

“I never thought it would be possible period, whether it be in my home state or any other,” said Peterson.

The bill does address some religious issues. Religious organizations would not be required to wed gay couples and church officials do not need to allow gay couples to use their facilities.

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