Opponents of gay marriage are crying
foul against two Cook County, Illinois officials who support two
lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the state's law
limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
At a press conference on Thursday, Cook
County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said she would not fight the
The ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal
are representing more than two dozen gay and lesbian couples who wish
to marry in Illinois but are unable because state law defines
marriage as a heterosexual union.
The suits, filed late last month, come
one year after Illinois legalized civil unions for gay couples and
two weeks after President Barack Obama, a former Illinois senator,
endorsed gay marriage.
The suits claim that Cook County Clerk
David Orr's refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples
violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the
Orr and Alvarez have questioned whether
the ban on gay marriage in Illinois is constitutional.
Peter Breen, executive director and
legal counsel of the Thomas More Society, called the officials'
support part of an “inside job” and said his organization would
intervene to defend the law.
“We are disappointed in the Cook
County State's Attorney's office for not defending this valid law,
passed with broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly,”
Breen said in a statement. “While the plaintiff couples in this
case are from hundreds of miles outside of Chicago, Lambda Legal and
the ACLU sued only the Cook County Clerk and excluded from the case
the local clerks for these couples. Today's announcement by State's
Attorney Anita Alvarez makes it clear that this lawsuit was an
'inside job' from the beginning, a crass political move to force same
sex marriage on all Illinoisans without providing the residents of
the other 101 counties an opportunity to be heard. The Thomas More
Society is preparing legal papers to defend the law and prevent this
collusive end run around the will of the people of Illinois and their
However, local officials are not alone
in their support.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa
Madigan's office has already filed a notice with the court saying it
would support the legal challenges.
According to The
Chicago Tribune, the notice, filed in Cook County Circuit
Court, said Madigan's office will “present the court with arguments
that explain why the challenged statutory provisions do not satisfy
the guarantee of equality under the Illinois Constitution.”