A judge has consolidated two lawsuits from gay people seeking marriage equality in Illinois, but it's still an open question as to who is going to sit on the other side of the courtroom and defend the state's marriage ban.
The Chicago Tribune reports that a Cook County judge today combined lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal, which represent a total of 25 same-sex couples. But the Cook County state's attorney, the state's attorney general, and the Illinois governor have all said they agree with the plaintiffs and won't argue in favor of the marriage ban in court.
So who will?
The Associated Press reports that the Thomas More Society, a law firm, plans to try picking up where the state has left off. Peter Breen, the group's executive director, told the AP the group would "be seeking relief from the court."
"You can't just say you feel it's unconstitutional," said Breen.
But that's exactly what Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan and Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez have done.
"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 told the AP, which reports that the attorney general's office will file a brief next week officially siding with the plaintiffs.
President Obama and his Department of Justice have taken the same approach to the Defense of Marriage Act, refusing to defend it from numerous legal challenges because they believe it to be an unconstitutional law. In that case, House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner have picked up the defense and hired their own attorney.
In California, the governor and attorney general refused to defend the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage from legal challenge. And proponents of the ballot initiative were granted the right to defend the law in court instead.