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Court denies anti-gay groups’ efforts to intervene in Ill. marriage equality lawsuit

By Joseph Duggan Lyons| Chicago Phoenix
Friday, November 30, 2012
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Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall rejected motions to intervene in the trial challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday by two anti-gay churches and the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group.

In July, two downstate Illinois county clerks were approved by the court to defend Illinois’ same-sex marriage ban after Cook County Clerk David Orr and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez refused to defend the law.

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The two churches and the IFI later filed to defend the case brought by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois on behalf of 25 gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses earlier this year.

Hall ruled that Grace Gospel Fellowship and the Church of Christian Liberty’s interests in the case are not sufficient to merit intervention.

The churches had argued that overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban could force them to perform gay weddings under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Hall said the churches will not be forced to perform marriages and that the lawsuit does not involve the exercise of religious beliefs as it affects solely civil marriage as recognized by the state government.

Hall also denied the Illinois Family Institute’s request to intervene. The group, deemed an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, contended it was responsible for creating the ban and thus had a place in defending it.

Judge Hall ruled that IFI’s views and arguments against the ban are similar enough to the downstate county clerks that their involvement would lead to “unnecessary” duplicate efforts, which would also prolong the duration of the trial — something Hall has opposed since she took on the case.

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