* Separate but unequal? That’s basically the argument here…
The gay rights group Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois each plan to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the clerk of Cook County, claiming that not issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Illinois Constitution.
Activists say they will continue to press lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage. But these lawsuits mean that the judicial system, and possibly the Illinois Supreme Court, will play a role as well. […]
The two Illinois lawsuits are similar to ones filed in California not long after the state enacted a domestic partnership law that provided the legal equivalent of civil unions. The suits in California led the high court there to rule that it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. But that ruling was eventually trumped by Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that barred gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
That turn of events in California is one reason some activists would prefer to win marriage equality through the Legislature, believing it puts same-sex marriage rights on more secure footing.
Civil unions give same-sex couples some, but not all, of the same legal rights and protections as marriage in Illinois, such as the power to decide medical treatment for a partner and to inherit a partner’s property. When that law was approved, however, opponents including some religious and conservative groups said it was an unwanted step toward gay marriage.
“The courts shouldn’t mandate it. Nobody should mandate homosexual marriage,” Colleen Nolen, director of the conservative Concerned Women for America, said late Tuesday.