In the wake of two lawsuits claiming Cook County Clerk David Orr violated same-sex couples' constitutional rights by not issuing marriage licenses to them, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has issued an opinion that essentially agrees with the same-sex couples.
And Orr is fine with that.
The two Democratic county leaders held a joint news conference Thursday to announce Alvarez' legal opinion filed in response to the lawsuits. Both said a 1996 state statute that says same-sex marriage "is contrary to the public policy of this state" is unconstitutional and same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
"Marriage equality is long overdue in Illinois," Orr said. "I support it in no uncertain terms."
Alvarez' opinion agrees with the "salient allegations within the complaint" and concedes "the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution prohibits discrimination in the issuance of marriage licenses based upon sex or sexual orientation."
"We are in agreement with the plaintiffs that Illinois laws that prohibit same sex marriage are unconstitutional," Alvarez said. "We believe the plaintiffs are correct in their assertion that the Illinois Constitution upholds marriage equality for same-sex couples just as it does for opposite-sex couples."
Last June, Illinois began allowing same-sex couples to join in "civil unions." In that time, Orr's office has registered 2,336 civil union registrations. However, Orr believes the civil union law doesn't go far enough.
"Like all families, (same-sex unions) contribute to society and like all families, they deserve society's protections," Orr said.