Over two dozen gay and lesbian couples are set to file lawsuits Wednesday challenging Illinois’ ban on same-sex marriage.
The couples will be backed separately by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, with the ACLU representing nine couples and Lambda Legal representing 16.
The suits will challenge state law that defines marriage as between a man and woman. They will argue that per the Illinois Constitution, which places express emphasis on due process and equality, the ban is illegal. That said, the suits are slightly different and will rely on different legal reasoning in order to argue their cases.
Currently, Illinois allows for civil unions, however the couples will challenge that this recognition is only partial and that they have been denied the full institution of civil marriage for no recognizable government interest. There is a bill pending in the state’s legislature that would recognize same-sex marriage but it is not expected to see movement before the legislative session ends.
The women, who’ve been together 15 years and have two children, reject the notion of a civil union.
“It’s not the same thing as a marriage. We want our relationship, our love and our commitment we’ve shown for 15 years to be recognized like everybody else’s,” Lazaro said. “When you’re growing up, you don’t dream of civil unions.”
The AP also has this comment from plaintiffs in the Lambda Legal suit, Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris:
They have been together for a dozen years and are raising six children, who are the reason Watkins wants to be married.
“We have the kids, it’s important for them to see that the relationship we’re in is validated by the state,” she said.
The groups hope to eventually bring the issue before the state’s Supreme Court.