Couple who get Cook County’s 15,000th marriage license to same-sex couple surprised, happy to be ‘part of history’

January 17, 2020
Press Release
Vital Records

Kevin Godwin and Sai He planned to meet late Friday morning at the Cook County Clerk’s Vital Records Bureau during Kevin’s lunch break, to get a marriage license. They would then get married Saturday at a courthouse.

They didn’t realize they would be the 15,000th same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Cook County, and to commemorate the milestone, Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough would personally congratulate them and officiate their marriage as soon as their marriage license application was completed.

When Sai, 22, and Kevin, 39, were informed by staff in the Clerk’s downtown Vital Records office that they were the 15,000th couple and Clerk Yarbrough was ready to marry them, they knew the time was right. The couple, who live on Chicago’s Near West Side, have known each other about six months and got engaged three weeks ago. “We just kind of knew it was right,” Kevin said.

“The first marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by this office, right where we stand today, took place in February of 2014,” Yarbrough said. “Since that day, 15,000 same-sex couples, from 47 states and a dozen countries have come to Cook County to get married.  

“Yes, it’s a wonderful milestone for my office,” Yarbrough said, “but today is your day, and I am proud to issue this historic marriage license to you!”

The couple didn’t know beforehand that the Clerk’s Office was counting down to marriage license number 15,000, but once they got that honor, Kevin said, “I think it’s really cool we’re part of history”

Sai said as he drove out of a garage Friday morning to meet Kevin, who is an ophthalmic technologist at a downtown hospital, he scratched his car. “The morning was really stressful for me,” said Sai. “But then coming here, seeing him … it’s pretty incredible.”

A video of the ceremony can be found on the Clerk’s YouTube page.

After declaring Kevin and Sai husbands, Clerk Yarbrough toasted them with champagne glasses of sparkling juice and presented the couple with gifts donated by local businesses. The gift package included: 

As the number of same-sex couples who have gotten marriage licenses by the Clerk’s Office neared 15,000 in late 2019, the office conducted a demographic analysis of those couples.

Detailed maps and graphs with demographic information on those couples who had been issued marriage licenses by the Cook County Clerk’s Office can be found on the Clerk’s website.

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