May 30, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay rights groups file Ill. same-sex marriage lawsuits

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Jr. has come out recently in support of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. (Photo by Chris Eaves via wikimedia)

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday filed lawsuits on behalf of 16 same-sex couples who seek to marry in Illinois.

“After 48 years together we know very well what it means to love, honor and cherish,” said Jim Darby, a Chicago resident who has been with his partner Patrick Bova for more than 48 years. “I have lived in Illinois all my life and I want to marry Patrick here. A civil union doesn’t reflect what we mean to each other.”

The lawsuit comes roughly a year after the state’s civil unions law that Gov. Pat Quinn signed took effect. The governor earlier this month endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples after President Barack Obama publicly backed the issue during an ABC News interview.

“These couples and their children share a dream of being part of a married family,” said Camilla Taylor, director of Lambda Legal’s National Marriage Project. “By excluding them from marriage, and relegating them to civil unions, our government has marked them as different and worth less than other Illinois families—and that is exactly how others treat them. They have suffered disrespect in schools, workplaces, hospitals, and in their every-day interactions with government for long enough. They should have the freedom to marry—it’s just time.”

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said that the lawsuits bolster efforts to secure passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Springfield.

“Regardless of which strategy achieves marriage equality first, the end result will be stronger families all across our state,” he said. “No matter if marriage equality is enacted first through the courts or by the General Assembly, we are all better off for it.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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