Regional
3:02 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Kentucky Same-Sex Couples Head to Illinois for Legal Marriages

Seth Stewart, left and Hunter Fawks, Marshall County native, and partners of 2 years.
Seth Stewart, left and Hunter Fawks, Marshall County native, and partners of 2 years.
Credit Lance Dennee

Same-sex Kentucky couples are heading to the commonwealth's only contiguous state that allows same sex marriage to make their unions legal.  

Illinois began issuing marriage licenses for the first time officially on June 1.

Massac County Clerk John Taylor says the office has been busy, issuing at least 20 licenses in May, ahead of the state deadline, most of which he says came from out of state.

“It’s busy because we’re getting a lot of questions, a lot of phone calls," said Taylor. "We have issued a bunch about 14 or 15 marriages and we already issued six yesterday, from Tennessee, Kentucky, we’ve had some from Florida.”

Taylor said the office issued six this morning, including Kentuckians Hunter Fawks and Seth Stewart who drove over six hours from Ashland to pick up their licenses.

"I would drive ten times further if that's what it took," said Stewart. 

Fawks, a Marshall County native, says the marriage does more than just bring the couple personal right; it gives them an equal right in society. 

"Words just can't explain it, it's just about time," said Fawks. "It's time for everybody to realize that we're all human beings and we should all be treated equal and I finally feel like I'm not an outsider, I'm equal. This is a dream come true to finally marry my partner, my husband, and have it be official." 

Melody Paris made the four hour drive from Sparta, Tenn. to marry Cynthia Skyska, her partner of 15 years.

"A man and a woman can get married and nobody says anything about it," said Paris. "Law says I can love her, but I'm not supposed to be married to her and everybody says everything about it and it's not right. I should be able to love her and have the same amenities that a man and a woman have." 

In February, the US District Court Judge John Heyburn struck down part of Kentucky’s 10-year same-sex marriage ban saying it violates the US Constitution’s equal protection clause, and effectively forcing the state to recognize out of state marriages. However, issuing wedding licenses is still illegal in Kentucky. 

Gov. Steve Beshear has appealed the judge’s order saying it would be an economic drag on Kentucky. The lawsuit to overturn the ruling is still pending.

Illinois is now the only one of Kentucky’s seven border states to allow same-sex marriage.