HUNTLEY – Rodrigo Perez and his partner Marco Mendoza walked inside the McHenry County Clerk’s office Tuesday morning with the hope of obtaining a marriage license.
The Huntley couple saw Cook County’s Feb. 21 ruling that same-sex couples could receive a marriage license before the original June 1 date. Then followed Champaign, DeKalb, St. Clair and Cass counties after Attorney General Lisa Madigan encouraged clerks across the state to issue the license to same-sex couples immediately.
But the couple was denied and told they would have to wait until June or travel to Cook County, something three McHenry County couples have already done.
“We told [McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz] we were there to get a marriage license, and we were told the law doesn’t take effect until June 1,” Perez said. “We mentioned the other counties and that Lisa Madigan gave the OK to issue them throughout the state.”
Schultz told Perez and Mendoza that Cook County’s court order did not apply to other counties, and if she were to issue a license early there’s a risk it could be declared invalid – a statement she has reiterated to the Northwest Herald. Schultz was not available for comment Wednesday.
“I can see the risk,” Perez said. “But the risk isn’t for the county, the risk is for us … She said she was sorry and there was nothing else she could do. She wished us well and that was the end of it.”
In DeKalb, a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit against DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson’s decision to wait until June 1 to issue the marriage licenses. Johnson decided not to mount a defense and the couple received a license and were married on Monday.
Perez said he and Mendoza contemplated a lawsuit, but they are opting to head to Cook County rather than taking on the attorney costs.
“We are McHenry County residents,” Perez said. “We would have liked to see our fee go to McHenry County.”
At least three McHenry County same-sex couples have traveled to Cook to receive a marriage license, according to Courtney Greve, communications director at the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
Perez said he and Mendoza, both 51, have seen how society’s view on same-sex marriage has changed over the years, and he is frustrated in McHenry County’s reluctance to implement the law early.
“I get the impression that McHenry County is very conservative,” he said. “That has a definite influence on it. They won’t do anything they don’t have to do for something that has a controversial issue to it … I’m really disappointed that again our local government has let us down.”