feig press 072721CHICAGO – A pair of proposals that State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) sponsored to modernize marriage certificates in Illinois are now law, after being signed by the governor Tuesday.

“Today, we commit to righting the wrongs of the past and providing a path for our residents to live a life that truly reflects how they identify,” Feigenholtz said.

Under Senate Bill 139, married couples will now be able to request a marriage certificate from their county clerk without any gender identifying language. This includes changing terms like "bride" and "groom" to gender neutral alternatives, such as "spouse."

“Marriage certificates that limit couples to choices like 'bride and groom' do not reflect what marriage looks like in Illinois today,” Feigenholtz said. “This law is a giant step forward for the transgender community, who have all-too-often carried the burden caused by archaic laws.”

Another transgender-focused measure passed by Feigenholtz, House Bill 2590, allows a married individual who has legally changed their name in Illinois to request a new marriage certificate that is updated with the individual’s current name.

“Being able to update a marriage certificate to have the correct information is extremely important for transgender people,” said Kato Lindstrom, a transgender man and community advocate who brought the idea of the legislation to Feigenholtz’s attention. “We can now use this document without having to show supporting documentation to prove our marriage is valid. It is equally important that we are no longer forced to put ourselves in situations where being transgender is completely irrelevant.”

While the legislation is applicable to all Illinoisans, its main intention is to support Lindstrom and other members of the transgender community, who shared harrowing stories of their inability to access important resources like health care because their marriage certificate did not align with their other legal documents.

“These changes are minor, but they will have a big impact on many Illinois families, particularly in the transgender community,” said State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), who was the House sponsor of both proposals and worked closely with Feigenholtz to see them through the General Assembly.

House Bill 2590 is effective immediately, and Senate Bill 139 takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.