The Illinois law, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, granted all couples the freedom to marry, regardless of whether the marriage is between opposite-sex or same-sex couples. This has been the law in Cook County since February 21, 2014. It took effect throughout all of Illinois on June 1, 2014.
Civil unions continue to be offered to all couples in Illinois. No couples – same-sex or opposite-sex – in a civil union are required to convert it to a marriage. You can either keep your civil union or convert it to a marriage. Civil unions have not automatically dissolved because of the marriage equality law and there is no requirement to convert it to a marriage. All civil unions are still legal and valid.
Couples in a civil union who are seeking to be married in Illinois can do so by going through the same steps as any couple seeking to marry must fulfill. This includes proving they meet certain requirements (be the same parties to the marriage, not be in process of dissolving their marriage, age requirements ). They will incur the same waiting periods and process requirements as any other eligible marrying couple, except there is no fee for the marriage license if they are already in a civil union. The fee will be waived. Effectively, the couple must go through the marriage process with the exception of paying the fee.
After the law took effective, there was a one-year grace period during which couples could automatically convert the civil union to a marriage without having to undergo the marriage license process and waiting period. However, that time has grace period expired has now expired.
Since the requirements for obtaining a marriage license are relatively straightforward, most couples wishing to convert a civil union to a marriage will not likely find them that onerous. The fee will still be waived. The waiting requirements are minimal and most couples look forward to an officiate performing a ceremony rather than doing an automatic conversion.