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Darby vs. Orr lawsuit dismissed
by Matt Simonette

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Judge Sophia Hall on Dec. 17 granted a motion to dismiss as moot the Darby vs. Orr lawsuit filed on behalf of 25 Illinois same-sex couples seeking the right to marry.

The motion was filed Dec. 9 by attorneys from ACLU Illinois and Lambda Legal, who represented the plaintiffs.

"The relief that we were seeking was in the marriage bill that was signed by the governor last month," said Ed Yohnka, dir. of Communications and Public Policy at ACLU Illinois. "But the way it was dismissed still left open the possibility of refilling should we ever need to."

ACLU Illinois and Lambda Legal, along with the law firms Kirkland & Ellis and Miller Shakman & Beem, successfully argued that terminally ill LGBT residents wishing to marry ahead of the June 1, 2014, start date for gay marriage should be allowed to. A ruling allowing the marriages was issued orally in a federal court on Dec. 9 as well.

Yohnka was careful to distinguish the significances of Darby vs. Orr and the federal case, however.

"With Darby vs. Orr, we were seeking the right to marry. With Lee vs. Orr [the federal case], we were seeking relief for couples who are harmed by having to wait until June," he said.

Darby vs. Orr was filed in mid-2012 by couples unable to obtain marriage licenses from the Cook County Clerk's Office.

Cook County Clerk David Orr had no objections to marriage equality and refused to defend his office in the case. The defense was argued by the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm, on behalf of five downstate county clerk's offices.

"We're pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal agree with us that their lawsuits are now moot and thus should be dismissed," said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, in a statement Dec. 17. "Because the concerns of people of faith were ignored by the Illinois General Assembly when it redefined marriage under state law, we now turn our attention to the protection of the religious liberty rights of Illinoisans who object to being forced to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies."

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