Marriage in Illinois—It's Just Time

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May 30, 2012
Plaintiff couple Daphne Scott-Henderson and Ryan Cannon with their children

Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit today on behalf of 16 same-sex couples and their children seeking the freedom to marry in Illinois.

The suit comes nearly a year after the state's civil union law took effect. The case argues that barring same-sex couples and their children from marriage is a violation of the Illinois Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process.

Learn more about the case and sign our pledge.

Lead plaintiffs Jim Darby and Patrick Bova of Chicago have been together for over 48 years. Darby, who worked in the stockyards before enlisting to fight in the Korean War, and Bova, a librarian, met on the south side of Chicago and fell in love in 1963, and have been in a committed relationship ever since. Says Darby:

After 48 years together, we know very well what it means to love, honor and cherish. I have lived in Illinois all my life and I want to marry Patrick here. A civil union doesn’t reflect what we mean to each other.

Meet all the plaintiff couples and their families.

Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's Marriage Project Director (who led the litigation effort and won marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa), says:

One year ago same-sex couples across the state were joined in civil unions. The experiences of the couples and the children in this suit show the hurt, confusion, and private bias that they have encountered as they have lived their lives.

These couples and their children share a dream of being part of a married family. By excluding them from marriage, and relegating them to civil unions, our government has marked them as different and worth less than other Illinois families—and that is exactly how others treat them. They have suffered disrespect in schools, workplaces, hospitals, and in their everyday interactions with government for long enough. They should have the freedom to marry—it’s just time

Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Clark adds:

Civil unions do not satisfy Illinois’ guarantee of equality because they single out a group of people, treat them differently under the law, and deny them the fundamental right to marry. We are taking this case to court because, in our democracy, it is the job of our courts to uphold the Constitution and protect individual freedom.

The case is Darby v. Orr.

Lambda Legal has marriage cases already pending in New Jersey and Nevada.