Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois on Wednesday filed two separate lawsuits representing 25 same-sex couples and their families seeking the freedom to marry in Illinois.
The suits — which come nearly a year after the state’s civil union law took effect, and just and just two weeks after President Barack Obama from Illinois said he supported marriage equality for same sex couples — argue that prohibiting same-sex couples and their children from marriage is a violation of the Illinois Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process.
Jim Darby and Patrick Bova of Chicago, have been together for over 48 years, and are the lead plantiffs in the Lamba Legal suit, which represents 16 same-sex couples and their families.
Darby, who worked in the stockyards before enlisting to fight in the Korean War, and Bova, a librarian, met on the south side of Chicago and fell in love in 1963, and have been in a committed relationship ever since.
“After 48 years together, we know very well what it means to love, honor and cherish,” said Darby. “I have lived in Illinois all my life and I want to marry Patrick here.”
Althouhgh they entered into a civil union in 2011, “a civil union doesn’t reflect what we mean to each other,” said Darby.
Lambda Legal has released this video introducing the couples and their families who are participating as plaintiffs in their case:
Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s Marriage Project Director, who led the litigation effort and won marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa, said “the experiences of the couples and the children in this suit show the hurt, confusion, and private bias that they have encountered as they have lived their lives.”
“These couples and their children share a dream of being part of a married family. By excluding them from marriage, and relegating them to civil unions, our government has marked them as different and worth less than other Illinois families—and that is exactly how others treat them. They have suffered disrespect in schools, workplaces, hospitals, and in their everyday interactions with government for long enough. They should have the freedom to marry — it’s just time.”
“Civil unions do not satisfy Illinois’ guarantee of equality because they single out a group of people, treat them differently under the law, and deny them the fundamental right to marry,” said Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Clark.
“We are taking this case to court because, in our democracy, it is the job of our courts to uphold the Constitution and protect individual freedom,” Clark said.
The lead plaintiffs in the ACLU case are Tanya Lazaro and Elizabeth “Liz” Matos of Chicago.
Lazaro is a Chicago Police Department Detective and Matos works as a system analyst for a trading firm in downtown Chicago, and have a two-year-old girl, and just recently had a second girl, Sophia. After Illinois adopted civil unions, the couple rejected the idea.
“Our relationship is not about some legal benefits and protections, but about love for one another,” said Lazaro. “We love each other; we are committed to one another. Anything short of marriage does not recognize that love and commitment.”
The ACLU suit represents eight additional couples from around the state, who are profiled here:
Lambda Legal has marriage cases already pending in New Jersey and Nevada.