The Supreme Court recently struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Plaintiffs in an Illinois lawsuit are now citing the ruling in an attempt to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs argue that same-sex couples in Illinois do not have access to the federal benefits that are available to same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
The area of family law in Illinois will be facing important questions as Illinois courts examine these issues. Under Illinois law, same-sex couples who were married in another state are treated as if they have a civil union.
There are 25 couples involved in the lawsuit. The couples would like to have the same benefits as any married couple would receive including veteran’s benefits, tax benefits and access to family medical leave. Advocates of same-sex marriage in Illinois argue that the state Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry. This freedom applies to the 25 couples involved in the lawsuit as well as thousands of other same-sex coupled across the state.
Attorneys defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage say that the plaintiffs have marred their own credibility by delaying the case for over a year and then suddenly demanding a quick decision. They feel that the stories of the 25 couples involved in the lawsuit and the testimony of many same-sex marriage advocates are irrelevant. The issue, according to the defense, is simply whether a law is unconstitutional or not.
Regardless of the gender of a married couple, getting a divorce or dealing with child custody, visitation, or support can be a cause for anxiety. The best way to help alleviate this anxiety is for people in such situations to become informed about, and take steps to protect, their legal rights.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Groups seek to strike down ban on same-sex marriage in Illinois,” Rex Huppke, July 10, 2013