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Lawsuits Planned To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage In Illinois

Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2012

As I said earlier in today’s Agenda, Lambda Legal and the ACLU will be filing separate lawsuits today in a bid to legalize marriage equality in Illinois. According to The Chicago Tribune:

The gay rights group Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois each plan to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the clerk of Cook County, claiming that not issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Illinois Constitution.

…A total of 25 couples from across the state are plaintiffs in the two lawsuits. Each couple tried to get a marriage license from the Cook County clerk’s office in May and was denied based on the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which prohibits marriage “between 2 individuals of the same sex” and states: “A marriage between 2 individuals of the same sex is contrary to the public policy of this State.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office issued a statement from the clerk, who is out of the country: “The time is long past due for the state of Illinois to allow county clerks to issue marriage license to couples who want to make their commitment. I hope these lawsuits are the last hurdle to achieving equal marriage rights for all.”

Illinois has been providing civil unions for almost a year. The lawsuit is being filed on the basis that civil unions, rather than being equal to marriage, is actually reinforcing discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. According to The Chicago Sun-Times:

Illinois’ constitution, more than other states’ constitutions, spells out rights that advocates for same-sex couples see as guaranteeing a right for people of any gender to marry, despite laws the Legislature passed in 1996 prohibiting same-sex marriage.

…The ACLU case will argue that the right to privacy in Illinois’ Constitution protects against a ban on gay marriage. California’s constitution had a similar right to privacy cited by that state’s high court in upholding a right to same-sex marriage. That law is under review in federal appellate court.

Lambda also argues that Illinois’ ban on “special legislation” that benefits one group over another prohibits a ban on same-sex marriage.

Comments

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Kate
May 30th, 2012 | LINK

Good to hear! I just got a notice in the mail today from my life insurance company, which is based in Dallas, not Illinois, informing me that they support (or at least are complying with) the Illinois state law on civil unions with regards to insurance benefits. They will recognize the legal relationship of any two Illinois residents in a civil union, regardless of gender, in providing benefits to
spouses or children.

They did have to point out that Federal level benefits, such as those dealing with taxes, are still an issue because of DOMA.

But I thought that was pretty cool, to spend the money to mail the notice to all of their customers.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2012 | LINK

The ACLU case will argue that the right to privacy in Illinois’ Constitution protects against a ban on gay marriage. California’s constitution had a similar right to privacy cited by that state’s high court in upholding a right to same-sex marriage. That law is under review in federal appellate court.

No, that law is NOT under review. “That law” was found to be in violation of the California constitution.

What is under review in the federal appellate court is whether Proposition 8, an amendment to California’s constitution, is a violation of the US Constitution.

Phil
May 30th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t disagree, in principle, with the legal theory that civil unions are unlawful discrimination.

However, I think that if we, as a movement, are okay with this both as a legal theory and legal strategy (suing for marriage equality specifically because civil unions are a form of unequal treatment), then we lose the right to draw a moral distinction between people who oppose SSM and people who oppose both SSM and civil unions.

Priya Lynn
May 30th, 2012 | LINK

Phil, while there may be a moral distinction between people who oppose marriage and those that oppose both marriage and civil unions I’ve never had a need to draw such a distinction.

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