The Latest on Lambda Legal's Marriage Lawsuit in Illinois

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August 22, 2012
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This post was co-written by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's Marriage Project Director, and Christopher R. Clark, Senior Staff Attorney.

Yesterday, we filed papers telling the court that we oppose the Illinois Family Institute’s (IFI) attempt to intervene in Darby v. Orr, our case in Illinois seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

IFI is an organization dedicated to advancing the view that gay and lesbian relationships are unnatural and sinful. It filed a petition to intervene, arguing that it should be allowed to join our lawsuit because it has lobbied for the ban on marriage for same-sex couples, that it has tried (and failed) to get a non-binding referendum on the ballot concerning marriage in Illinois, and that its members “care deeply” about the issue.

We opposed IFI’s petition because the personal opinions of an organization’s members does not give the organization a legal right to meddle in someone else’s lawsuit. Furthermore, there are already parties in this case who are committed to defending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Illinois. On June 29, Christie Webb, Tazewell County Clerk, and Kerry Hirtzel, Effingham County Clerk, petitioned to intervene to defend the constitutionality of Illinois marriage ban, and their petition was not opposed.

Additionally, allowing IFI to intervene despite its lack of a legal interest would open the floodgates of participation to any person, agency or organization that has spent time and money in support of Illinois’ marriage ban or that has a strong opinion about marriage.

The bottom line is this: Extremist views about lesbian and gay people do not provide the organization with legal standing to intervene in our case. IFI and its members have the right to continue holding those views, but they are not entitled to present those opinions as parties in Darby v. Orr.

What’s next: Oral argument on IFI’s motion to intervene is scheduled for September 27, 2012.

Learn more about the case and meet the couples behind our lawsuit.

Do you support the freedom to marry in Illinois? Sign our petition today!