Circuit Court of Cook County heard oral arguments this week on a motion from two churches seeking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging marriage inequality in Illinois.
The Church of Christian Liberty and Grace Gospel Fellowship want to become defendants in the suit, Darby v. Orr, which was brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of gay couples in the state.
The churches want to participate because state and Cook County officials have said they won’t defend Illinois’ anti-gay marriage law, which they say is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Lambda Legal marriage project direct Camilla Taylor said after the arguments, “This case has no impact on a church's right to exercise its religious liberty. The freedom to marry who you love, whether it is someone of the same sex or someone of a different sex, is not a religious issue, it's about the government treating all families fairly. The couples in these cases come from all walks of life, some have children, some are senior citizens – marriage is something that will touch every aspect of their lives, but will never affect a church's ability to practice its faith.”
The lawsuit was filed last May. Another complaint was brought by the ACLU of Illinois. Together Lambda and the ACLU are representing 25 gay couples.
Two after the suits were filed, the Illinois Attorney General's office filed papers agreeing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.
The Cook County clerk and Cook County states attorney also agreed that the marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Next, clerks from Tazewell and Effingham County moved to intervene, promising to defend the ban. The court allowed their participation.
Next, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay group based in Arizona, filed papers seeking to join the case on behalf of an anti-gay group in Illinois. Lambda is opposing the motion.
On Sept. 20, the Church of Christian Liberty and Grace Gospel Fellowship filed their own motion to intervene, which Lambda Legal also is opposing.