[JURIST] Illinois Cook County Circuit Court [official website] Judge Sophia Hall on Friday allowed two lawsuits [complaints, PDF] challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage to proceed to trial. This could permit Illinois state courts to decide whether same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Illinois or have marriages obtained in other states recognized within the state of Illinois. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and Lambda Legal [advocacy website] filed the lawsuits on behalf of 25 same-sex couples last year after the clerk of Cook County refused both to marry same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages obtained in other states. Illinois currently permits civil unions, and the Illinois Senate [official website] voted [JURIST report] last February to permit same-sex marriage, but the House of Representatives [official website] never voted on the bill.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, and has generated criticism [JURIST op-ed] stemming from that polarization. A judge for New Jersey's Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton ruled [JURIST report] Friday that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. Last week Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Last Wednesday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Earlier last week a Kentucky judge ruled that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by spousal privilege [JURIST report] under Kentucky state law.