November 29, 2012
By Jacob Combs
The Illinois General Assembly could vote on a marriage equality bill as early as January 2013, according to a press release issued yesterday by Lambda Legal. Along with the ACLU, Lambda is representing several same-sex couples in the state seeking equal marriage rights in the companion cases of Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr; yesterday, the plaintiffs in those cases met with state legislators to urge a vote on the bill, HB 5710, also called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. From the release:
“We want our lawmakers to know how important this is to our family,” said Anne Dickey, plaintiff in Darby v. Orr. “Every day, our child feels different from his friends because Laura and I aren’t allowed to get married. Whether it is through the courts or the legislature, we need the freedom to marry.”
“Our family, our love and our commitment deserves the recognition and dignity of marriage,” said Richard Rykhus, a plaintiff in Lazaro v. Orr. “We believe that Illinois law should recognize fully the family that we have built together.”
Since Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois filed their suits, both the Illinois Attorney General and the state attorney for Cook County (where the cases were filed) have publicly stated that they support marriage equality. Cook County Clerk David Orr, the named defendant in the cases, also supports marriage equality and has declined to defend the state’s marriage laws. In July, two other county clerks filed motions with the court to defend those laws, and a judge heard arguments in September from an anti-gay group called the Illinois Family Institute seeking to intervene in the case.
Support for marriage equality in Illinois has increased by 10 points in just two years, a poll released in late September showed, with 44 percent of respondents backing equal marriage rights. Equality Illinois, one of the state’s largest LGBT rights organizations, announced yesterday that it is opening new offices in the suburban Chicago area and has appointed two new field directors to expand the group’s outreach programs in the state.