An Illinois organization trying to intervene in a lawsuit that claims the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional presented oral arguments today in Cook County Circuit Court.
Bryan Beauman, an attorney representing the Illinois Family Institute, said that allowing the organization — which opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions — to defend the state’s marriage law would “even the playing field.”
Two lawsuits — which were later joined into one — were filed in May by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the gay rights group Lambda Legal. The Cook County state’s attorney and the Illinois attorney general quickly said they agree with the lawsuits and would not defend the state law that prevents same-sex couples from marrying.
In July, two downstate county clerks were granted the right to intervene in the case and defend the state’s marriage law, represented by the Thomas More Society, a public-interest law firm that opposes same-sex marriage. The ACLU and Lambda Legal did not oppose the clerks’ intervention.
Beauman told Judge Sophia Hall today that along with the Illinois Family Institute’s work on implementing the original state law banning gay marriage, the absence of any defense from the state creates “a more compelling reason to let the Illinois Family Institute in to assist on the case.”
Emily Nicklin, an attorney from the law firm Kirkland & Ellis who is working with the ACLU and Lambda Legal on the lawsuit, said the Illinois Family Institute does not have enough of a stake in the case to intervene.
“The fact that these people have spent time and money (on this issue) doesn’t meet the standard to intervene,” she said.
Nicklin argued that it would be more appropriate for the Illinois Family Institute, as well as other churches and organizations that are now trying to intervene in the case, to file “friends of the court” briefs supporting the defense of the state law, rather than intervening in the defense.
Hall said she would take the arguments under advisement. Another hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7.Copyright © 2015, RedEye