On July 27th, Illinois legislators, advocates and guests met with Governor JB Pritzker at the Center on Halsted to sign a package of progressive LGBTQ-centered bills into public act. Among these bills were House Bill 2590, which creates a process for county clerks to issue a non-gendered marriage certificate and correct gender-identifiers if two people are already married, and Senate Bill 139, which allows individuals who are currently married to request a marriage certificate from their county clerk’s office free of gender identifying language.
“A marriage certificate is so more than just a piece of paper – it reflects the foundation of a partnership, of your family. It’s a symbol of your love and commitment to your partner” said Representative Ann M. Williams (D-Chicago), chief House sponsor of both bills. “It should accurately reflect who you are, but for many Illinoisans, it didn’t. But now it can – and it will.”
Along with chief Senate sponsor Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), Rep. Williams worked closely with advocacy group Equality Illinois and the Cook County President’s Office, who initially brought forward concerns about inaccurately misgendered marriage certificates, to push legislation that amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and set a standard across the state for gender-inclusive documentation.
“These simple changes – which ensure marriage certificates are accurate both in terms of name and gender, may seem small, but are incredibly significant to those impacted” Rep. Williams explained. “Every Illinoisan deserves this – and it shouldn’t be dependent on the willingness of your local clerk to accommodate you and your family.”
With marriage equality legally recognized in Illinois since 2014, the state continues to make progress as an inclusive and welcoming state for persons of all gender-expression. While the option for gender-neutral marriage certificates are available to everyone, they are especially significant to non-binary and gender non-conforming community members.
Representative Williams is grateful to chief Senate sponsor Sara Feigenholtz, Equality Illinois, the Office of Cook County President and the community advocates who spoke about their personal experiences.
“Today’s collection of bills sends the critical message to all of Illinois that we welcome every person here as they are, for who they are” Williams asserted. “We see you…we hear you…and we affirm who you are. You are Illinois.”
House Bill 2590, now Public Act 102-0169, is effective law.
Senate Bill 139, now Public Act 102-0171, will take effect on January 1st, 2022.