A Cook County, Illinois judge on
Thursday agreed to consolidate two lawsuits challenging the state's
ban on gay marriage.
The two separate lawsuits represent
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. Nine couples are represented by the ACLU of
Illinois in one lawsuit, while Lambda Legal is representing sixteen
couples in another. Both suits were filed on the same day.
During a brief hearing, Judge Moshe
Jacobius agreed to combine the cases, the Chicago
The suits were filed a year after
Illinois legalized civil unions for gay couples and two weeks after
President Barack Obama endorsed gay marriage. Obama represented
Illinois as a senator before winning the White House.
Illinois officials, including Cook
County state's attorney and the Illinois attorney general, have
refused to defend the law, saying they agree the ban is
Cook County Clerk David Orr, who is
named in the suits, applauded the legal challenges.
The conservative Thomas More Society
has said it would intervene to defend the law. According to the
Chicago Tribune, however, the organization has yet to petition
Legal has also filed a lawsuit challenging Nevada's prohibition on
gay couples marrying.