Cook County will likely have given out 10,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples by around Labor Day, according to officials.
As of mid-August, the county had licensed about 9,925 same-sex marriages and gave out, on average, about seven or eight licenses to same-sex couples a day, said Cook County Clerk David Orr.
"It's a very exciting and rewarding result because there are so many battles to be fought in society, and we had a battle like this, with blatant discrimination, reach a successful conclusion," added Orr. "We won in the courts and in the legislature. If you asked us 10 years ago, if we thought we'd have the legislature vote for this, we would have said no."
Marriages began in Cook County in late 2013, several weeks after the legislature and former Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill codifying marriage equality. But that bill would not take effect until mid-2014; several activists, nearly all with pressing health concerns, sued for the right to marry early. A federal judge agreed, and then that right to marry early was extended to all of Cook County on Feb. 21, 2014, when 46 same-sex couples arrived at Orr's office for their licenses.
Orr said that some gay and lesbian couples from downstate or out-of-state do still make the trip to Chicago because they think they will be treated better there. He added that the average age of same-sex couples was about 37, which is the same as straight couples.
"At first that was skewing older, because so many longtime couples were getting married," he said.
Orr noted that overall, the transition for his office proceeded "seamlessly," adding, "You come into our offices and you'll have a straight couple right next to a straight couple."
The most difficult parts of that transition were technicalupdating computer software, for exampleand administrative.
"I was very proud of our people, but there were some who gave us a little static," he recalled. "But when it came down to it, everybody did their job. I think we had one person that left the office because of what they thought the [biblical] teachings were."
Orr relished that the marriage-equality struggle was one that, at least in Illinois, reached a satisfying conclusion for its stakeholders.
"But we always have to be aware that the other side never goes away," he added. "They have plenty of money and they have the kind of intolerant groups behind them always looking for an angle, like in North Carolina. Even with the euphoria we feel today, we should never let our guard down."