ACLU, Lambda Legal, and 25 Couples Sue for Equal Marriage Rights in Illinois

Later today, Lambda Legal and the ACLU will file lawsuits in Illinois demanding legal marriage rights for gay couples, the Chicago Tribune reports:

ILA 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."

The lawsuit will be announced at a press conference today at 10:30am in Chicago, according to an email Towleroad received from Lambda Legal.

The Tribune adds:

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.

Activists say they will continue to press lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage. But these lawsuits mean that the judicial system, and possibly the Illinois Supreme Court, will play a role as well.

"We always thought this was something that had to happen," said ACLU attorney John Knight. "We think it's time to try in the courts, and we're optimistic about our chances."

"We feel like we're at a tipping point," said Camilla Taylor, a Lambda Legal attorney who headed up a similar case that led to the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa. "You reach a point where you can no longer tell these families that they should hold off. You lack the justification when we reach a national moment, when it's clear that our time is now."

LazadoThe Chicago Sun-Times adds:

The planned lawsuits will make some of the same arguments that worked in Iowa: equal protection under the law and due process. 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.

Chicago Police Det. Tanya Lazaro, 36, and her partner Liz Matos, 40, are one of the couples filing suit — Sun Times.

A marriage equality bill introduced in the Illinois legislature earlier this year isn't likely to see movement, as we noted in April.