Gay couples marrying in Champaign, Ill.

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Marriage equality arrives in Champaign County, Ill.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten on Feb. 26 became the second county clerk in Illinois to issue marriage licenses to all loving, committed couples.

Equality Illinois, the state's largest and oldest LGBT civil rights group, announced the new development as it restated its call for county clerks across the state to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Hulten, according to EI, made the decision less than a week after a U.S. District Court in Chicago said that marriage equality is a fundamental right and denying immediate access to it is unconstitutional. The ruling led to the immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Cook County, Ill.

EI said on Feb. 26, after Hulten began issuing licenses, "As we saw in the immediate rush to the Cook County Clerk's marriage bureau after Friday's ruling, gay and lesbian couples are eager and ready to take the step that not only grants them and their family the legal benefits and rights of marriage but also bestows society's recognition that their love is equal."

The group added that Champaign County's move "is a major step that instantly spreads marriage equality to another major region of the state. We are working with more county clerks to help them step up."

Lawmakers passed a marriage equality bill for Illinois last fall.