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Illinois county clerks ask judge for permission to defend same-sex marriage ban

Two Illinois county clerks, represented by the Thomas More Society [advocacy website], on Friday filed a motion [text, PDF] in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois [official website] seeking permission to defend the state's law [750 ILCS 5 materials] banning same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in two combined lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Effingham County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel and Tazewell County Clerk Christie Webb sought to intervene in the case after both the Illinois Attorney General and the State Attorney declined [JURIST reports] to defend the law. The plaintiffs who brought the case have argued that the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, barring same-sex couples from legally marrying, violates equal protection and due process guarantees in the Illinois constitution. Both Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez [official profile] and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official website] have filed notice with the court, expressing their support for the plaintiffs. The hearing to consider the clerk's motion was scheduled for Tuesday, July 3.

Presiding judge of the Cook County Chancery Division, Moshe Jacobius, agreed [JURIST report] last month to combine the two lawsuits that claim the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Illinois was the seventh US jurisdiction to legalize same-sex civil unions, but it has not joined the nine jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage. In February, three Illinois legislatures introduced [AP report] the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act [HB 5170 materials], which would have provided same-sex marriage rights for same-sex couples, but it has not been approved. In March, Maryland legalized same-sex marriage, joining Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. On the other hand, North Carolina voters approved [JURIST report] a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in May. In February, the Wyoming Senate approveda bill that would deny recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST report] performed in other jurisdictions. New Jersey is still struggling to pass the same-sex marriage bill because Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill [JURIST report] and called for a voter referendum to decide the issue, rather than the state legislature.

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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