Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official website] on Friday filed notice with the Cook County Circuit Court [official website] stating that her office will present arguments in support of two lawsuits filed in opposition of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Last week 25 gay and lesbian couples filed two lawsuits [JURIST report] against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] challenging the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] ban. The couples argue that the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act [750 ILCS 5 materials], barring same-sex couples from legally marrying, violates equal protection and due process guarantees in the state's constitution. Madigan will "present the court with arguments that explain why the challenged statutory provisions do not satisfy the guarantee of equality under the Illinois Constitution." Quinn signed [JURIST report] a bill [SB 1716 materials] that legalized same-sex civil unions [JURIST news archive] last year, but the plaintiffs claim that did not go far enough.
Illinois was the seventh US jurisdiction to legalize same-sex civil unions, but it has not yet joined the nine jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage. In February, three Illinois legislators introduced [AP report] the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act [HB 5170 materials], which would have provided same-sex marriage rights for same-sex couples, but it is still pending and a vote is not expected before the legislative session ends. In March, Maryland legalized same-sex marriage, joining Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. On the other hand, North Carolina voters approved [JURIST report] earlier this month a constitutional amendment [Amendment 1, PDF] to ban same-sex marriage. In February, the Wyoming Senate approved [JURIST report] a bill that would deny recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions performed in other jurisdictions. New Jersey is still struggling to pass the same-sex marriage bill because Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill [JURIST report] and called for a voter referendum to decide the issue, rather than the state legislature.