Nine Illinois couples filed a lawsuit this week, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and New York-based Lambda Legal, to challenge the constitutionality of Illinois law that bars same-sex couples from marrying.
Led by lead plaintiffs Tanya Lazaro, a Chicago Police Department Detective, and her partner Elizabeth Matos, a system analyst for a trading firm in the Loop, the ACLU group filed a complaint against Cook County Clerk David Orr “ask[ing] this Court to perform what is perhaps its most solemn and sacred duty—ensuring that fundamental rights are extended to all Illinoisans,” according to the document.
A statement from a spokesperson in Orr’s office holds promise for the future of marriage equality in Illinois:
“The time is long past due for the State of Illinois to allow County Clerks to issue marriage licenses to couples who want to make that commitment,” the statement said. “I hope this lawsuit clears the last hurdle to achieving equal marriage rights for all.”
Illinois had legislation pending that would eliminate prohibitive language in Illinois’ marriage law, but the proposal didn’t make it to a vote before the spring session ended Thursday.
Northwestern University political science professor Andrew Koppelman told the Associated Press that the joint motions filed by the ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal have teeth, since both high-profile groups are selective and rarely fight legal battles they don’t think will win.
If he’s right, these nine couples in the ACLU suit are about to change Illinois history. Meet some of the people behind the fight: