ACLU and Lambda Legal to Seek Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Seeking Marriage Equality in Illinois

Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois will file a motion for summary judgment and request a swift ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in Illinois, according to a press release sent out by the two groups:

IllinoisTogether, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois each filed lawsuits on May 30, 2012, representing a total of 25 same-sex couples from across the state of Illinois seeking the freedom to marry. Two days later, the Illinois Attorney General's office filed papers agreeing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The Cook County Clerk and State's Attorney also agree that the marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Wednesday's Motion for Summary Judgment will be supported by friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of numerous organizations including the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF), The Chicago Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, and The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law by attorneys Paul T. Fox, Gregory E. Ostfeld and James P. Madigan of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and on behalf of faith leaders across the state of Illinois, by attorneys Alexandra K. Block, Edward W. Feldman, and Nury A. Siekkinen of Miller Shakman & Beem, LLP, in support of marriage for same-sex couples.

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


  1. Anthony says

    This wouldn’t be needed if it weren’t for those jerks in the House who stalled on it. And btw, the people who are in civil unions in Illinois will get ZERO federal marriage benefits.

  2. Pat says

    What is a likely timeline for this? The court will set an audience date in a few weeks? months? and possibly bring equality to Illinois by the fall?

    On the legislative front, still no news about a possible special session to finally get this thing done in the House?

  3. MiddleoftheRoader says

    The lawsuit is almost a carbon-copy of what the 9th Circuit said in the Prop 8 case — even though California gave same-sex “domestic partners” all the same state rights as opposite-sex partners, it refused to label their relationships as “marriage”. Ditto in Illinois with “civil unions”.

    The reasoning of the 9th Circuit on Prop 8 should apply to Illinois. The 9th Circuit found that giving the rights without the label was unconstitutional and demeaning, and that’s even more so in Illinois (and other states with civil unions) now that DOMA has been found invalid. In other words, by giving same-sex couples everything except the word “marriage”, Illinois is keeping these couples from getting federal rights that apply only to “married spouses” (and not to “civil union partners”). And there’s no legitimate reason to deny the word “marriage” to them.

    But as another commenter said, it will take months before the court rules on this motion for summary judgment. Meanwhile, it’s a bigger disgrace that the Illinois House can’t come up with the votes it needs to adopt marriage by legislation — which would make the lawsuit disappear.

  4. Icebloo says

    As a Democrat I am angry and disgusted the Democrats we helped elect in Illinois & Hawaii stabbed us in the back by not allowing votes on gay marriage. I was hoping the days of the weak, spineless Democrats were over.

  5. Jack says

    For those asking about timeline, the answer is most likely “not soon.”

    It remains unclear who, if anyone, will file an opposition to the MSJ, since the AG agrees with the plaintiffs. I don’t know if Illinois law permits something like the House of Reps did with DOMA, where the legislature could hire an independent attorney to defend the law. Or if Madigan will file an opposition (which would admittedly be a half-hearted one) because she believes she has to.

    The state will have an opportunity to file an opposition (which it might or might not do), which adds time. Then comes the court’s consideration. The ACLU/Lambda can ask all they want for a speedy decision, but reaching a decision and writing an opinion will take time (and courts can be so notoriously slow about these things sometimes).

    Then, even if the trial court agrees, there is the issue of appeal. Again, whether or not someone can step into the state’s shoes and appeal a favorable decision is unclear to me, so we’d have to wait to see how that shakes out too.

    But the trial court may not agree with the MSJ even if the state doesn’t oppose and nobody can step in to defend the law otherwise. The court might insist on a trial to flesh out whatever facts it wants to hear. So who knows.

    I will say, as much as I enjoy seeing the state agree with the unconstitutionality of the law, it does bother me a little to see Lisa Madigan (IL Attorney General) not defending a law, which she may very well truly believe is unconstitutional, but that the cynic in me says is also part of her inevitable upcoming campaign for the Governor’s mansion. It risks setting a bad precedent of an AG playing politics with lawsuits against the state to gin up support for an upcoming election. It’s hard to balance that with the fact that Lisa Madigan’s position is clearly correct. A tough situation, because I don’t particularly desire a full-on defense by the state that would inevitably be highly offensive. grr.

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