Marriage licences have only been available to gay people for a week in Cook County, Illinois, and already 258 couples have applied to marry there.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the state’s equal marriage bill into law in December, however same-sex weddings were technically only set to take place from June 1, 2014 when the law takes effect.

Despite the 1 June start date, a Chicago federal judge last month ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying was unconstitutional, opening the door for some couples to marry immediately.

County Clerk David Orr described the change as “historic”, and “extraordinary”, saying “before long it will be a regular occurrence.”

A second county – Champaign - also begun issuing licences, as County Clerk Gordy Hulten said if the ban “is unconstitutional in Cook County, it’s unconstitutional in Champaign County.”

Some out-of-county applicants for marriage licences were among the 258.

Other counties are expected to soon follow suit.