The ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal on Wednesday plan to file legal challenges to Illinois' gay marriage ban.

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.

The move comes one 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.

Lead plaintiffs in the ACLU case, which has 9 couples, are Tanya Lazaro and Elizabeth “Liz” Matos of Chicago. The couple is raising two daughters, two-year-old Jaiden and newborn Sophia. They have rejected the idea of entering a civil union.

“Our relationship is not about some legal benefits and protections, but about love for one another,” Lazaro, a Chicago Police Department Detective, said in a statement. “We love each other; we are committed to one another. Anything short of marriage does not recognize that love and commitment.”

“It is remarkable that Tanya risks her life each day to go out into the City of Chicago and keep people safe, but the law does not recognize fully the family that we have built together,” said Matos.

Three openly gay Illinois lawmakers have introduced a gay marriage bill, which has the support of Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, but lawmakers are not expected to act on the measure before the legislative session ends this week.

Sixteen couples have joined the Lambda Legal case, including Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris, the first couple last year to get a civil union license in Cook County. The women have been together for a dozen years and are raising six children.

“We have the kids; it's important for them to see that the relationship we're in is validated by the state,” Watkins told the AP.

Lambda Legal has also filed a lawsuit challenging Nevada's prohibition on gay couples marrying.