The lawsuits by the gay rights group Lambda Legal and theÂ American Civil Liberties Union of IllinoisÂ create a new front in the battle for same-sex marriage rights in Illinois, leading activists to say they will continue pushing lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage while also supporting the new judicial action.
“The goal is the same â€” to get marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in Illinois,” said Bernard Cherkasov, head of Equality Illinois, a statewide advocacy group. “It’s going to take years for these lawsuits to work their way through the courts. At the same time, the Legislature has a job to do, and we expect them to do their job and pass a marriage equality bill at the next opportunity they get.”
Gov.Â Pat QuinnÂ endorsed same-sex marriage earlier this month after PresidentÂ Barack ObamaÂ expressed his support. Quinn’s office released a statement Wednesday that said: “While neither he nor the state have been named in the lawsuit, he hopes that marriage equality will be the law in Illinois as soon as possible.”
Cook County ClerkÂ David OrrÂ responded to the lawsuits against him with a statement of support for same-sex marriage: “As everyone who has followed this issue knows, I fully support the right of people to marry, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Nobody should have to pass a gender test to get a marriage license.”
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined to comment on the lawsuits.
Six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, and 31 states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage. In the 32 states where same-sex marriage has been on the ballot, it has been defeated each time.
The two lawsuits are filed on behalf of 25 couples from across the state who tried to get marriage licenses in Cook County in May. All were denied because of language in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that prohibits marriage “between two individuals of the same sex.”