Marriage lawsuit's fate unsure, despite SB10

Tue. November 12, 2013 9:10 AM by Windy City Media Group

Chicago, IL - Darby v. Orr, the lawsuit filed by several area couples against the Cook County Clerk's Office, might still be pending, despite the passage of same-sex marriage legislation Nov. 5.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs had said they would move to dismiss the lawsuit should SB10, the Religious Fairness and Marriage Equality Act, be signed into law. Gov. Pat Quinn announced that he would sign the bill Nov. 20. As late as Nov. 5, James Bennett—Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal, which is representing the plaintiffs along with ACLU Illinois—said Darby is "moot."

But he and other attorneys began to have more conversations about the later start date of SB10. The legislation, as originally written, called for a start date 30 days after the governor's signature. But the bill passed through the House during a veto session, with less than a three-fifths majority in the legislature. According to the Illinois State Constitution, that means the legislation can't take effect until June 1, 2014, which is now the earliest Illinois same-sex couples can marry.

Bennett said Nov. 7 that the legal team was weighing options in order to consider whether the lawsuit might be able to prompt marriages to begin sooner. By not being able to marry until June 1, "the couples are still being harmed," according to Bennett.

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