Judge Rules Court Challenges to Illinois Gay Marriage Ban Can Proceed
An Illinois judge has rejected motions to dismiss two court cases challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Reuters reports:
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall ruled that lawsuits brought by same-sex couples have a chance of succeeding with the argument that the state's ban on gay marriage discriminates against them.
The ruling is a boost for Illinois supporters of gay marriage trying to legalize gay nuptials through the courts because efforts through the state legislature fell short.
The ACLU and Lambda Legal praised the decsion in a press release:
"This ruling is a big step forward in putting an end to government-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples and their families in Illinois, but we must continue to push forward until loving lesbian and gay couples have the freedom to marry here in Illinois," said John Knight, director of the LGBT Project at the ACLU of Illinois. "Same-sex couples and their children have been waiting far too long in Illinois for the freedom to marry, watching as state after state has recognized that lesbians and gay men should have the freedom to marry while Illinois continues to deny them the respect associated with marriage, as well as the full access to the federal protections and responsibilities."
Although the court dismissed the sex discrimination and other claims specific to the Illinois constitution, the plaintiffs can obtain everything they seek -- a declaration that the marriage ban is unconstitutional and an order requiring the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- through the claims that remain. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed the cases in May of 2012.
"We are pleased that the court saw that our couples have a right to their day in court on the merits of their claims for liberty and equality. Illinois' marriage ban not only brands these couples and their children as inferior under state law, but now that the federal law known as DOMA has been struck down by the Supreme Court, Illinois is the only thing standing between these families and full federal respect for their relationships," said Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. "Loving same-sex couples in Illinois can't wait any longer for the freedom to marry. We're excited to get to the next step and make the case for equality."