Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples

June  02, 2014

      Rock Island County issued its first same-sex marriage licenses today, one day after the new law took effect in Illinois.

      John Kentzel and Larry Griffin, from Rock Island, were the first couple to apply for a marriage license when the clerk's office opened. They walked in wearing claddaghs, traditional Irish wedding bands, around their necks.  Almost three years ago today, Kentzel and Griffin became the first same-sex couple to apply for a civil union license in Rock Island County.

      "The civil union was a step in the right direction. This is the end. This is the direction," Griffin said. "We're finally getting the recognition that our relationship is as valid as anybody else's," Kentzel added.

      The couple has been together for 35 years. They met in Louisiana, lived in New York until 2001, and settled in Rock Island shortly after. 

      "We didn't ever think we'd see the day that we could do this, and so, it's exciting," Kentzel said. "So there really wasn't years of hoping. At that, I was just hoping for gay people to have rights at all," Griffin said.

      Kentzel and Griffin say gays still face discrimination in the workplace, and they hope attitudes will continue to change here and across the country.

(Photo, from l to r: Larry Griffin and John Kentzel with flowers given by Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney.)