The Illinois State Attorney General and the Cook County State’s Attorney announced this week that they will not enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and will not defend the law in court. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez were expected to defend Illinois’ 16 year ban on same-sex marriage in an upcoming case brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of 25 same-sex couples. The announcement shocked many legal experts and some have said it will make it so that a judge will almost immediately strike down the same-sex marriage ban.
Alvarez, State’s Attorney for Cook County, the county that includes Chicago, told the Associated Press that “I took an oath when I was sworn in to defend the constitution of the state of Illinois and I believe that’s what I’m doing,” Alvarez said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m not going to defend something I believe is in violation of the constitution.”
The lawsuits named Cook County Clerk David Orr as a defendant because his office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses. Orr says he filed a response agreeing with the plaintiffs and Alvarez says that she agrees with Orr and the plaintiffs, and it is therefore her job to defend Orr. State prosecutors have previously refused to enforce laws, such as in Nebraska, where an attorney general refused to enforce an anti-abortion law that he felt would be found unconstitutional. The Chicago Tribune reports that this “marks the first time a state has refused to contest a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban.”
AP 6/21/12, 6/14/12; Chicago Tribune 6/15/12