Cook County State's Attorney: Illinois same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

June 14, 2012

Lauren Chooljian and Alex Keefe

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(AP/File)
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

Illinois Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office filed a motion Thursday that indicates she agrees with several parts of two lawsuits challenging the same sex marriage ban in Illinois, in a move that signals another legal victory for proponents of same-sex marriage.

Alvarez's office said it "will admit the salient allegations within the complaint and concede that the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution prohibits discrimination in the issuance of marriage licenses based upon sex or sexual orientation."

"We are in agreement with the plaintiffs that Illinois laws that prohibit same sex marriage are unconstitutional.  We believe the plaintiffs are correct in their assertion that the Illinois Constitution upholds marriage equality for same sex couples just as it does for opposite sex couples," the statement said.

The legal climate in Illinois seems to be growing friendlier for advocates of gay marriage.

Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office handed a small victory to gay rights advocates when her office quietly filed papers in Cook County Court indicating it would not defend the state's same-sex marriage ban. Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for the first time last month said publicly that he supports same-sex marriage, following a similar declaration by President Barack Obama during an interview with ABC News just a few days prior.

Opponents say they are disappointed in Alvarez's office for not defending the law. The conservative Thomas More Society says they're preparing legal papers to defend the law themselves.

"It sets a precedent that in Illinois, power wins. It's not what the rule of law says, it's not what court decisions in careful precedence say, it's power. Who gave me more money, who got me elected. Those are the folks I'm going to go with," said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the Thomas More Society.

Cassidy Herrington contributed to this report.