In Chicago, gay and straight couples are flocking to the Cook County Clerk’s downtown office of records to acquire the state’s first civil union licenses.

The Chicago Tribune said: “As with marriage licenses, couples will have to pay a $35 fee and wait one day before they can hold a civil union ceremony. Couples who are already registered as domestic partners in Cook County but want to enter into a civil union will get a $20 discount and their domestic partnership will be automatically dissolved.”

Staff at the records office have reportedly said they are expecting to process about 36 applications an hour.

Illinois will be the sixth state to give same-sex couples the equivalent state-level rights of marriage.

New Jersey also has civil unions. Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, Maine, Wisconsin and the state of Washington extend some of the rights of married couples to gay relationships through domestic partnership laws. Delaware and Hawaii have also passed civil union laws, but have not yet enacted them.