Left to right: Kerry Hirtzle, Christie Webb
County Clerks Intervene to Defend Illinois Marriage Ban

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com July 03 2012 11:03 AM ET

Two Illinois county clerks have been granted a motion to intervene and defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, which is being challenged in court. Civil unions became legal in the state last year, but the law prohibits same-sex marriages.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall granted the motion during a hearing Tuesday morning, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Thomas More Society, a Catholic legal group, filed the motion late Friday on behalf of two downstate clerks, Christie Webb of Tazewell County and Kerry Hirtzel of Effingham County.

“The motion notes that 15 of the 25 plaintiffs in the lawsuits do not actually reside in Cook County, yet they all sought marriage licenses in Cook County and filed the suit solely against Cook County Clerk David Orr,” reported the Tribune. The group’s executive director said the plaintiffs came “from all over the state” and called the suits “legal sleight of hand to get a friendly clerk to roll over.”

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed two separate lawsuits in May challenging the marriage law, which was amended 16 years ago to prohibit same-sex marriage. The suits, which have since been consolidated, claim that the ban violates equal protection and due process. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan agreed with the lawsuits and have refused to defend the ban in a decision that “raised eyebrows among some legal experts,” according to the Associated Press.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU did not oppose the motion that was granted Tuesday, the Tribune reported. The Thomas More Society has also filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which will be heard on September 27.