Illinois Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Legal Battles Loom in 10 More States

By Joan E. Greve

Nov 20, 2013 4:20pm

In the latest of nationally sweeping pro-LGBTQ legislation, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed marriage equality into law today at University of Illinois-Chicago, making his state the 16th to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Marriage equality is coming to Illinois,” Quinn said in a Nov. 7 press release. “I look forward to signing this landmark legislation on November 20 and celebrating a big step forward with the people of Illinois.”

Illinois was nearly the 15th state to pass the law, but Hawaii’s own bill passed its Senate on Nov. 12, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed it into law later that day.

“The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States,” Abercrombie said in a Nov. 13 press release. “Many people have worked tireless [sic] to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance.”

President Obama also expressed support of his home state, Illinois, when the legislation was voted on, in a press release earlier this month. “As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said.

Illinois and Hawaii join a growing wave of legislation and litigation in favor of same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s decision in July to strike down a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Just this year, four other states—Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Jersey—have also begun allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed.

“Since the beginning of the LGBT rights movement in its nascent days of the 1950s to the Stonewall rebellion of 1969, we have never come this far this fast,” said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing for the Human Rights Campaign, in an e-mail to supporters Monday.

“LGBT equality advanced more in 2013 than in any other year and at a pace never before seen,” he said.

And mounting legal battles could soon force other states to follow suit. On Nov. 8, the same day Hawaii passed its bill, four same-sex couples in Idaho filed charges against the state to be equally recognized under the law.

Here are just some of the states facing legal battles from issues related to same-sex couples:

ARKANSAS: Eleven same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in July to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex civil marriages. The couples are also demanding equal parental rights and recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. The couples will request a declaratory judgment and preliminary injunction on Dec. 12.

FLORIDA: On Nov. 7, a Florida state judge ruled that records from Professor Mark Regnerus’ “New Family Structures Study” must be disclosed to reveal how the study was published immediately without peer review. Regnerus’ findings suggested that children raised by same-sex parents faced a disadvantage of opportunities compared with those raised by mixed-gendered parents.

IDAHO: The same day Hawaii passed its bill through its House, four same-sex couples in Idaho filed charges against the state to be equally recognized under the law.

INDIANA: Pressure to pass HJR6, a ban on same-sex marriage, mounts in the Hoosier state as the Indiana legislature starts its new official year this week. However, Freedom Indiana, the campaign to stop the bill, as well as universities such as Ball State and Indiana University have already publicly expressed strong dissent that legislators may be unable to overcome.

KENTUCKY: The state of Kentucky filed charges against a same-sex couple on July 30 in an attempt to force Geneva Case to testify against her partner, Bobbie Jo Clary, in Clary’s murder trial. Case and Clary have been legally married under Vermont law since 2009. But the state of Kentucky does not recognize their union and therefore claims that Case is not included in the law that protects spouses from having to testify against each other.

MISSISSIPPI: Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melcon filed a lawsuit in September to have their California marriage recognized and then to be granted a Mississippi divorce involving alimony, custody claims and inheritance divisions.

NEBRASKA: ACLU Nebraska sued the state in August to challenge its law that prohibits gays or lesbians from serving as foster parents.

NORTH CAROLINA: In June 2012, the ACLU filed charges against several state judges to have the adoption rights of six same-sex couples and their children recognized. A year later, they amended the lawsuit to include a demand for lawful marriage as well.

PENNSYLVANIA: In September, 21 same-sex couples in Pennsylvania sued Gov. Tom Corbett on the grounds that the state’s same-sex civil marriage ban violated the state and federal constitutions.

WEST VIRGINIA: Three West Virginian couples also filed a complaint challenging their own state’s statute banning same-sex marriage in October.

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