Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez [official profile] argued Thursday that Illinois' ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] contravenes the state's constitution. Her response [Chicago Sun Times report], filed on behalf of Cook County Clerk David Orr [official website], is part of ongoing proceedings in two lawsuits filed [JURIST report] at the end of May against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] and Orr, who issues marriage licenses in the county, that challenge the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban. In her response, Alvarez admitted the allegations and concluded that the equal protection clause of the Illinois constition prohibits discrimination in the issuing of marriage licenses on the basis of sexual orientation. Earlier in the month Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official website] similarly filed notice [JURIST report] with the Cook County Circuit Court [official website] stating that her office will present arguments in support of the two lawsuits filed in opposition of the state's same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs argue that the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act [750 ILCS 5 materials], barring same-sex couples from legally marrying, violates equal protection and due process guarantees in the state's constitution.
Illinois was the seventh US jurisdiction to legalize same-sex civil unions, but it has not yet joined the nine jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage. In February, three Illinois legislators 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] earlier this month a constitutional amendment [Amendment 1, PDF] to ban same-sex marriage. In February, the Wyoming Senate approved [JURIST report] a bill that would deny recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions 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.