News (USA)

Judge to decide in Sept. on whether to dismiss challenge to Ill. gay marriage ban

Judge to decide in Sept. on whether to dismiss challenge to Ill. gay marriage ban

Updated, 1 p.m. CDT:

CHICAGO — A judge in Cook County, Ill., won’t decide until late September on whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s same sex marriage ban.

Circuit Judge Sophia Hall listened to nearly two hours of arguments on Tuesday. She then said she’ll rule on Sept. 27. The lawsuit involves 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied.

Patrick Bova and Jim Darby, lead plaintiffs in the Lambda Legal suit, entered into a civil union in 2011.

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, who brought the suit on behalf of the couples, filed a motion for summary judgment last month, asking Hall to rule quickly in their favor, saying a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down part of a law denying federal benefits to married gay couples creates a new urgency in the state.

“Today we urged the court to ensure that same-sex couples and their families get their day in court. We put forward the severe harms experienced by the 25 plaintiff couples and the thousands of same-sex couples and their children in Illinois every day because their government marks them as unequal,” said Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s marriage project director.

“The recent Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA has made the freedom to marry even more urgent in Illinois than it was before because Illinois now stands between these families and a host of federal protections, benefits, rights and responsibilities. Civil unions do not fully access the federal safety net that marriage provides, and Illinois families can’t wait any longer,” she said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has refused to defend the state’s ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Alvarez says it violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause. Also, Attorney General Lisa Madigan is set to deliver arguments against the ban because the case brings the constitutionality of state laws into question.

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Clerks from downstate were allowed to intervene and defend the ban.

Illinois approved civil unions in 2011, but attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state have stalled.

The Lambda Legal suit is Darby v. Orr and the case history is here. The ACLU suit is Lazaro and Matos v. Orr and that case history is here.

In June 2012, Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius granted the suing parties’ request to combine the suits.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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