Darby v. Orr

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Status: Closed Approximate
Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division
Issues: Marriage, Relationships and Family Protections

Case representing same-sex couples in Illinois seeking the freedom to marry.

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Jim and Patrick, the lead plaintiffs in Lambda Legal's marriage case. See photos and video from their wedding.

Nearly one year after the civil union law took effect, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of 16 same-sex couples and their children seeking the freedom to marry.

By excluding them from marriage and relegating them to civil unions, the government has marked them as different and less worthy than other Illinois families—and that is exactly how others treat them. Such a restriction is a violation of the Illinois Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process. Same-sex couples and their children have suffered disrespect in schools, workplaces and hospitals, and in their everyday interactions with government for long enough. The couples have been together between 6 to 48 years, and 10 of the couples are raising children.

Meet the couples and learn more about the case.


  • May 30, 2012 Lambda Legal files complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division.
  • June 2012 The state attorney general and the Cook County state’s attorney file papers backing Lambda Legal’s lawsuit. The county clerk has also voices his support.
  • November 2012 Circuit Court rejects attempts by antigay groups to intervene in the lawsuit.
  • June 2012 The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal group, files a motion to intervene on behalf of two downstate county clerks, Christie Webb of Tazewell County and Kerry Hirtzel of Effingham County.
  • February 2013 The Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, denies a motion by the Thomas More Society to stay the case pending decisions in two marriage cases up for review in the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • July 2013 Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois file a motion for summary judgment in Cook County Circuit Court, asking for a swift end to the harm and indignity couples face without the freedom to marry—which now includes the inability to access many federal marriage benefits.