Two lawsuits that seek marriage equality in Illinois will move ahead as planned, after Cook County Judge Sophia Hall rejected a motion to stall the cases.
The Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm representing five opposing county clerks, argued that the case should be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two same-sex marriage cases before it. The Supreme Court is poised to rule on a case involving the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act as well as a challenge to California's Proposition 8, banning gay marriage.
Tom Brejcha, attorney with the Thomas More Society, argued that federal cases would inevitably impact the Illinois cases and that the court should wait for those decisions before moving forward.
"Your honor has inherent authority to control your docket," Brejcha said.
John Knight, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, countered that the federal and state cases dealt with different laws and clients.
"We have entirely different clients than the ones pending in the U.S. Supreme court," he said, adding later, "We see no reason to stop this case in its tracks to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court."
Hall said it remained to be seen how the federal cases would impact the Illinois lawsuits.
"I am inclined to deny and will deny the motion to stay," Hall concluded.
The lawsuits, filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of 25 couples, face additional hurdles before they will be heard.
The clerks have filed a motion to dismiss the case. Plaintiffs are also expected to file a counter motion for judgement in their favor.
Knight and Lambda Legal attorney Christopher Clark asked Hall to hear both of those motions simultaneously. Hall rejected that request and said each would be heard individually.
The case is expected to move forward this Spring.
The court date comes on the eve of an expected Illinois Senate vote on a bill that would legalize marriage equality. Both the ACLU and Lambda Legal have been among lead organizations on that effort. If the bill becomes law, they will move to dismiss the lawsuits, they say.