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Illinois Court hears marriage arguments
by Matt Simonette

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A Cook County Circuit Court judge Tuesday heard oral arguments in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought about last year on behalf of 25 couples seeking the right to marry in Illinois.

Darby vs. Orr and Lazarro vs. Orr were filed against Cook County Clerk David Orr in mid-2012. The plaintiffs in the case are being represented by Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois. Orr, who is in favor of marriage equality, has refused to defend the state's marriage ban, so the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm, is representing five opposing county clerks in the matter.

Special State's Attorney Paul Benjamin Linton said Tuesday that the state's marriage ban, passed in 1996, was put in place to "codify what was obvious" and "make explicit what was implicit"—that Illinoisans believed marriage was an institution reserved for a man and a woman.

"It passed overwhelmingly and few legislators spoke about the bill when it came up for a vote," he said, adding that it was unfair to ascribe dubious motives to the legislation's authors.

According to Linton, the state has a compelling interest in promoting relationships that result in "responsible procreation." He dismissed the observation that infertile men and women can still marry by saying that the idea can be "subject to exception, but that exception does not negate it." He added the state has a responsibility to promote the idea of stable, mother-father households.

"This is a common sense view by society," Linton said.

Camilla Taylor, marriage project director of Lambda Legal, said that the defendants are basing their arguments on assertions outside the original complaint and incorrectly grasping the ideas behind the law. She pointed out, for example, that a study the defendants utilized to undermine the idea of same-sex parents had been discredited by the journal it had appeared in.

Children living with two same-sex parents is an idea "beyond scientific dispute," she said. "We must accept as consensus that kids with same-sex parents do just fine."

According to Taylor, the plaintiffs are seeking access to a "birthright, which is the freedom of choice. Freedom means nothing if the government the right to deny Jim Darby the right to marry Patrick Bova, his partner of more than 50 years."

John Knight of ACLU added that the state had no compelling or rational interest in banning same-sex marriage and failed to explain how it was strengthening the institution of marriage by doing so.

"Laws that burden lesbians and gay men are more likely to be rooted in stereotypes," Knight said. "In the end all this law does is hurt the marriage status of same-sex couples."

Judge Sophia Hall said that she would issue her ruling about the dismissal Sept. 27.

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