PEORIA, Ill. -- Sunday is the first day counties in Illinois must begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses under legislation signed into law last year. Those couples who have already wed in another state will now be recognized as married in Illinois.
We sat down with a Peoria couple who say they never thought this day would come.
We spent part of the afternoon with a couple who's been together for almost 22 years, but marriage is still new to them.
They got married last August, but until today, that marriage wasn't recognized in Illinois.
Hector and Bob say they grew up during a time where marriage was between a man and a woman and thought they would never be able to marry the man they loved.
And until today, they couldn't have -- at least not in Illinois. The couple had to travel to Iowa to get married last year.
They say being able to get married is about more than a piece of paper. It's about fairness for everyone and allowing your partner to receive the same benefits opposite sex couples receive, including medical insurance and the right to see their partner in the hospital.
"There's a lot of people who think it's not a big deal, but it is, a great big deal. Financial security, piece of mind. If you really care and love that person you want things to be okay when you're gone," said Hector Martinez. "We didn't grow up even thinking about a day like today so it's really kind of surreal too."
Sixteen counties in Illinois have already been issuing marriage licenses since a federal court ruled the original ban unconstitutional back in February.
As for Hector and Bob, they are planning a second wedding ceremony for sometime next year.