In a move marking the first time a state official has refused to contest a lawsuit against a ban on gay marriage, the Cook County state’s attorney in Illinois has conceded the ban violates the state constitution.
The Chicago Tribune
reported Friday that state’s attorney Anita Alvarez had been expected to oppose a pair of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ban. But instead her office filed a response to the lawsuits Thursday agreeing with the plaintiffs that the ban violates the right to equal protection under the constitution.
Alvarez acknowledged at a news conference that it was an “unusual” position for her office to take, but she said she was comfortable with it, the Tribune reported.
“We do believe the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution is just that. It protects everybody equally,” she said.
The decision stunned both supporters and opponents of gay marriage.
“I’ve never encountered this before,” said Camilla Taylor, a lawyer with the gay rights group Lambda Legal, which filed one of the two lawsuits challenging the ban last month. “We’ve really reached the tipping point, and now the government of Illinois refuses to defend the law because it’s indefensible.”
But Peter Breen, president and chief counsel of the conservative Chicago-based Thomas More Society, said his group plans to file legal papers to allow it to defend the ban in court proceedings. That could happen next Thursday when a Cook County Circuit Court judge is expected to rule on a motion combining the two lawsuits into one case.
Breen said he believes Alvarez never planned to actually defend the ban in the first place.
“This makes it clear that lawsuit [challenging the ban] was an inside job from the beginning, a crass political move to force same-sex marriage on all Illinoisans without providing residents of the other 101 counties an opportunity to be heard,” Breen said.
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