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ACLU to file equal protection lawsuit over state’s civil unions law

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

* 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.

* More

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.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:09 am:

    ==The courts shouldn’t mandate it. Nobody should mandate homosexual marriage.==

    No one will be forced to get married & no one will be forced to conduct a marriage. This is not a mandate.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:20 am:

    This is a really dumb strategy.

    Despite recent defeats in other parts of the country, demographics and momentum are on their side in Illinois.

    Polling in support of gay marriage has spiked in recent years and legalization through legislation is certainly an inevitability in Illinois, if you work it.

    Supporters should be fighting it out in the public square and GA, forcing roll call after roll call, putting legislators on record, until victory.

    Going to the courts gives politicians an excuse to sit on their hands.

  3. - South of Sherman - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:21 am:

    “Separate but equal” is never equal.

  4. - Jimbo - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:23 am:

    That’s right, they are going to force us all to get gay married. Oh noez!!!!11!!

  5. - ZC - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    A good idea morally. Not a good idea politically. Unfortunately the two don’t always go together.

    A successful lawsuit here would only make it more difficult to establish even basic civil union protections for gays and lesbians in less gay-friendly states. They’ll point to IL and say, “See, if you even pass a civil unions bill, it turns into a gay marriage bill in short order.”

    Illinois will get gay marriage eventually through the legislative process alone. But I admit I don’t have a satisfactory answer to those Illinoisans who still feel shortchanged of this basic dignity, and who are tired of waiting.

  6. - mark walker - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:34 am:

    Word’s right. The better route is through the legislature, and it’s success is probably not far off.

    The greater risk is not legislators sitting back, but the general public reaction to the change if it is driven by the courts and not their elected representatives.

  7. - titan - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:36 am:

    Perhaps the better route would be to make all legal couplings “civil unions” and leave “marriage” to the individual religious entities to apply as they wish.

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    ===and leave “marriage” to the individual religious entities to apply as they wish. ===

    You’ve got federal law to deal with here. And why should only religious people who belong to a church be allowed to get married?

  9. - Southern Peggy R - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:49 am:

    If they put it to the people, they’d lose as they do in every state, even California.

    I am not sure if a discussion of the merits is really desired. So, I deleted my arguments against state recognition of homosexual unions. One needn’t rely on biblical reasoning. Anthropology and human history have been pretty clear about the role of marriage in a society.

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:55 am:

    ===If they put it to the people===

    Illinois has no binding ballot initiatives. We “put it to the people” via elections here. Do you really want California style governance? Careful what you wish for.

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    –Anthropology and human history have been pretty clear about the role of marriage in a society.–

    Clearly. That’s why same-sex marriage is once again being recognized among European societies, just as it was before the Middle Ages.

    And let’s not forget about the acceptance of polygamy among the Old Testament prophets.

  12. - Southern Peggy R - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    CA is not the only state in which the public have voted on whether to recognize homosexual unions–some just laws, others constitutional amendments.

    I have no knowledge of any society recognizing homosexual relationships as anything like marriage between a man and a woman. Polygamy, as wrong as western society finds it today, is not homosexual. It is still about reproduction, kinship, social order and alliances.

  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    –I have no knowledge of any society recognizing homosexual relationships as anything like marriage between a man and a woman.–

    Well, that settles that.

    Of course, today same sex marriage is recognized in certain states (ever heard of New York?) and small, remote outposts like Canada.

    Since you referenced anthropology, I assumed you were familiar with the history of same-sex marriage in other societies. You might need a refresher course.

  14. - titan - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    Rich - much of the problem with the issue is that “marriage” is heavily infused with religious meaning. The government might have been ill advised to get into it to begin with (many foriegn counties have a civil/legal ceremony and separate religious ceremony - people get a government union and a religious marriage, if they wish).

    In that millieu, everyone would likely be able to find a religiously ordained person to perform a marriage - even if the couple wer minimally religious, or even atheists (there are enough liberal mainstream and alternative religion entities to perform marriages for those folk).

  15. - Southern Peggy R - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    Wordslinger–yes, the past few years are an aberration in the history of mankind.

  16. - Colossus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    @Peggy - You’re aware that George Wallace said the same thing in 1965, right? And that you just defended polygamy as more righteous than a gay marriage?

    I don’t think you’re helping make your point as well as you think you are. Once again, you’re the crazy uncle (aunt) at Thanksgiving that just won’t recognize that they are holding onto antiquated and bigoted views.

    Just like Wallace in 1965.

  17. - Colossus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    @Peggy -

    And from my standpoint, the past 30 years of economic and political history in the United States is an aberration in the history of our country. There are arcs to history and human understanding, and no amount of standing astride history and yelling will make it stop.

  18. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    Why should I have to find some religious entity to perform the ceremony when I don’t believe in God?

  19. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    Peggy, you need to brush up on your history of mankind.

  20. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    It’s about the rights that are conferred. As long as it doesn’t harm someone else, people should be free to do what they want.

    Since the term “marriage” upsets some people, pass legislation to make “civil union” equal, maybe by including language stating a “civil union” in Illinois is intended to confer all the same rights and responsibilities as “marriage” is accorded under federal and state law. Can’t it just be as simple as that?

  21. - titan - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Cheryl44 - you wouldn’t, everyone would have a civil ceremony to get the legal union status (and legally, that’s all that would matter). Only those who wish to have the religious status of married would need to go thorugh a religious ceremony.

  22. - ChicagoR - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:25 am:

    RNUG, the law allowing civil unions already does exactly what you suggest. It allows civil unions for both same-sex and opposite sex couples, but marriage law allows only opposite-sex couples to be “married”. So you have a “separate but equal” situation which, as it was with respect to race, is unacceptable to many.

  23. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    If we detach government benefits from “marriage” and civil unions, and instead attach them to children and the individual, we can solve this issue by having civil unions become the state recognized form of joining a couple, just like any other contract between parties. Additionally, this allows us to simplify the tax code by eliminating all marriage penalties and tax breaks, instead redirecting our tax code to support children which is really the future of our species. We are of course left with the issue of multiple parties entering into the civil union if we so desire. Marriage can become the recognition of the civil union by the church.

  24. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    My past objections to the civil union bill passed this year still stands since it doesn’t really cover all the issues. What stops multiple parties from entering a civil union (slippery slope) and here again we single out a particular group for special (in this case non-special) treatment. This mentality of splitting and dividing various groups and people must stop, the government must begin to assess the its penchant for picking winners and losers.

  25. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:47 am:


    I thought part of the problem was lack of federal recognition of civil unions in things like the tax code, ie, unable to file married / joint.

  26. - ChicagoR - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:11 pm:

    RUNG, that absolutely is part of the problem, as the state can’t make the federal government give benefits to same sex couples (per the Defense of Marriage Act). But as far as Illinois law is concerned, civil unions and marriages are to be treated to the same rights and responsibilities. But the distinction between the two in naming as a matter of law is still a problem to many people, myself included.

  27. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    “Anthropology and human history have been pretty clear about the role of marriage in a society.”

    Peggy, did your father pay your husband a dowry when you got married like he would have had to centuries and millenia ago so that your husband would take you off his hands?

    Are you longing to returning to the historical practice of women being the chattel of their husbands, and thus incapable of owning property or inheriting as full human beings?

    I mean if you’re such a big fan of the anthropological and historical interpretation of marriage and all…

  28. - Southern Peggy R - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    Two men or two women uniting do not pose societal benefits by producing the next generation on their own accidentally or on purpose, but a man and woman almost always can (setting aside a few particulars). If a man and woman produce a child outside of wedlock there are social costs, including the child being dependent upon the state. There is no such worry when 2 men or 2 women do what they do. While people have different motives for marriage, mostly love these days, that is not primarily the concern or benefit of society. Stability is the concern. If love facilitates that, great. We’re talking about the interest of the state here, however. Homosexual unions are not like heterosexual unions in their external effects (pos or neg) on society. They require different treatment. Western civ has always known that until recently. The remotest tribes have had male-female marriage to propagate their societies and form alliances.

    Collolus: 30 past years of economic history? Actually, it’s the past 3-4 years that have been a problem. Or are you thinking of the rise of the welfare state in the past 30 years? In any case, irrelevant point.–And on polygamy, western Judeo-Christian belief has been against it. Islam practices it. Is it more right than homosexual unions? Possibly so, frankly, since heterosexual unions are natural. It is still wrong in Judeo-Christian faith and western civ. But, if you open state recognition to homosexual unions, then you invite in polygamy. It becomes about people’s feelings and life choices, not about the state interest.

  29. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:36 pm:

    Peggy, you’re all over the place here with some wacky and unsupportable statements, but this one strikes me most in your brief for heterosexual-only marriage.

    –We’re talking about the interest of the state here, however.–

    The purpose of marriage is for the benefit of the state? You sure you want to go there?

    Are you telling me you don’t know children of unmarried parents who aren’t “dependent” on “the state?”

    And, just for kicks, if you care to google, there were same-gender unions in ancient Greece, Rome and among Native Americans.

  30. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:37 pm:

    === And on polygamy, western Judeo-Christian belief has been against it.===

    Um, have you read the Old Testament?

  31. - Danny - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    I had hoped that if I was ever going to hear a coherent argument opposing same-sex marriage, it would be here. It’s increasingly obvious to me that absolutely none exist.

  32. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    “The purpose of marriage is for the benefit of the state?”

    While maybe not the purpose, it is a driving influence. There is no point of the state making tax policy considering couples otherwise. That is why I proposed moving all government policy to be focussed on the children, which is the future tax base and the individual and away from couples.

  33. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    The 14th Amendment should apply equally to same-sex couples. Obama is still wrong on this issue. And yes, its hypocritical to favor same-sex “marriage” and not support treating polyamorous relationships equally. Muslims and old time Mormons are people too.

    Civil unions for all is another way to do this fairly. Is it Christian tradition to meet a person one day and marry them the next? The government will do that. Is it Christian tradition to allow a man to divorce an 8 month pregnant wife so he can marry another woman? The government will do that.

    You aren’t protecting any tradition of marriage by opposing this, you are protecting a twisted big government tradition of inserting itself where it doesn’t belong. The Washingtons and Jeffersons didn’t need a marriage license from government and neither should anyone else.

    And that 32 year old guy in TN with 30 kids from 11 different women? That’s legal, but we lock a polyamorous family in jail if they publicly acknowledge their relationship? Government has already ruined whatever institution or tradition of marriage there used to be.

  34. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:44 pm:

    “Polygamy, as wrong as western society finds it today, is not homosexual. It is still about reproduction, kinship, social order and alliances.”

    Wow. Throw in some inbreeding and as far as social order, kinship, and alliances go, you might have a pretty powerful cult there that will be the envy of all the other little cults. Until, of course, off-spring begin to shrink and lose their minds. To solve that, you can run out to get some “new blood” in the form of a few new wives from outside the clan. Very easily repeated and thus, entirely “natural hetero.”

    (And if anyone’s wondering how I jumped to all those conclusions, I put on a tinfoil hat, too, so that I could follow some of the other “just as logical” arguments and leaps of faith a few others make in their arguments. It must have worked.)

  35. - Southern Peggy R - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:59 pm:


    I’ll play. Inbreeding doesn’t offer alliances (though some close cousins have married in western royalty), kinship, etc, but can yield birth defects and is of course frowned upon for its “yuck” factor. But pro-homosexual marriage folks say the limits we have today are not fair or reasonable. So, why not inbreeding?

    Do the pro-homosexual marriage folks want parameters on what is to be a state-recognized marriage or not? Once we open the door to homosexuals, why not siblings, polygamy, parent-child? What is the limiting factor here?

  36. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:59 pm:

    Wasn’t it Jefferson who had a notorious reputation as a “ladies’ man?” If it was, you’re right; he obviously did not need a “marriage license” for some of his activities.

  37. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    Come to think of it (if I’m right about Jefferson), he probably need to a few laws to help curb his “appetite.”

  38. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:03 pm:

    Anon 2:44 - Polyamory = Inbreeding is logical for you?

    Half of the world allows polyamory, can you point out how that leads to inbreeding? And are you really concerned about birth defects from inbreeding, or are you just using that as an excuse to discriminate against others with different religious views. The tinfoil is supposed to go ON your head, not through your ears.

  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:03 pm:

    Sorry. That obvious should have read “…he probably needed a few laws to help curb his “appetite.”

  40. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:10 pm:

    =And are you really concerned about birth defects from inbreeding,…=

    I’m sorry. All of the studies I read must have been bogus. And interestingly, enough they were the only ones I could find out there, no matter how hard I tried to find studies that concluded otherwise.

    And with regard to polyamory (assuming we’re defining it the same way), if the people practicing it in a *certain* society are a minority and that “exclusive,” I’d imagine the numbers are stacked up against them if they want to continue to procreate. But that’s merely speculation, I’ll admit.

  41. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:20 pm:

    ==Once we open the door to homosexuals, why not siblings, polygamy, parent-child? What is the limiting factor here? ==

    I wondered when you would go down that asinine road. That’s always a popular retort against gay marriage. If we allows gays to marry well then we’ll have to allow pedophiles to marry children or people to marry dogs. Give me a break. Just admit your objection is religious and move on.

  42. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    =Once we open the door to homosexuals, why not siblings, polygamy, parent-child? =

    To be quite honest with you Peggy, I haven’t heard anyone besides those who are against same sex marriage make that argument, so I’m going to have to assume that those in favor of same sex marrige could be against the types of relationships you’ve mentioned.

    Therefore, if you’re going to continue to argue that, I’d take the “emotion” out of it, and argue the legal precedent same sex marriage might set. You might get more people to agree with you if you can state a legal case for it–and maybe even gain some supporters who might be just as concerned about those “alternate” lifestyles as you are.

  43. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:26 pm:

    Again, merely speculation about the support, but the current approach of “it’s simply just going to happen,” doesn’t seem to be a very strong argument.

  44. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:01 pm:


    Then it sounds like it is the federal law that needs to be changed.

  45. - ChicagoR - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 4:56 pm:

    RNUG: Absolutely! That’s why DOMA is being tackled both in court and in Congress. There will never be equal treatment under the law until it is repealed or struck down.

  46. - Chevy owner/Ford County - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 5:13 pm:

    This, as a civil rights issue and one of equal protection, is an issue that should be decided in the courts…not in the legislature or the court of public opinion. Loving v. Virginia found that marriage is a civil right and, had it not been decided by the Supreme Court laws forbidding interracial marriage would likely still be on the books in several states.

  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:30 pm:

    Couldn’t wait until AFTER the election to file your lawsuit, eh?

    THANKS a lot for handing Republicans a bright, shiny object with which to distract the voters.

  48. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:33 pm:

    BTW, I agree 100 percent with Peggy: Marriage is the cornerstone of society.

    The #1 cause of divorce is financial problems.

    The #1 cause of bankruptcy is medical problems.

    Ergo, if we want to save America, we need to enact universal health care.


  49. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:36 pm:


    Dear Peggy:

    A hundred thousand families or so just lost their health insurance, and your worried that two women getting a piece of paper from the government is going to topple society?


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