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Two Illinois Counties to Defend State Law Banning Same-sex Marriage
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Illinois passed a law in 1996 declaring that marriage can take place only between a man and a woman. On May 30, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against Chicago’s Cook County Clerk after his office cited the law refusing to marry same-sex couples and refusing to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the State Attorney of Cook County, Attorney Anita Alvarez, both declined to defend the state law that banned same-sex marriage.

However, two county clerks from other conservative counties of the state asked the court to allow them to defend the state law. On Tuesday, the Cook County Circuit Judge Sophia Hall granted their petition and declared that Democrat Christie Webb of Tazewell County and Republican Kerry Hirtzel of Effingham County can defend the state law that banned same-sex marriages. A hearing has been set for Sept.27 for the motion to dismiss the case filed by the two clerks.

Same-sex marriage advocates hope that if the case is decided on merits then the state law would be formally struck down paving the way for greater freedom. Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s marriage project director said that her group and the ACLU agreed to allow the clerks to participate, “because we thought it was important that no one be able to argue in the future that the other side didn’t have an opportunity to present their best arguments.” Peter Breen, the executive director of Thomas More Society said “The battle is joined … There will be a defense of the law which is the great news of today.”


Illinois had legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples last year, but continued to block such unions from progressing into formally recognized marriages. Proposals to legalize same-sex marriages have been stalled in the legislature.

Lambda Legal claims that the organization had tracked hundreds of same-sex couples who used civil union laws but found that the discrimination continued unabated against them. According to gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, at least thirty U.S. states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriages.

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