A Cook County Circuit Court judge in Chicago heard oral arguments Thursday concerning an attempt by the Illinois Family Institute to intervene in the lawsuit from marriage equality advocates challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Bryan Beauman, the Alliance Defense Fund attorney representing the Illinois Family Institute, argued that allowing the group to defend the state's marriage law would "even the playing field" because the plaintiffs are being represented by two groups, according to the Peoria Journal Star.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal filed two lawsuits in May challenging the ban, which were consolidated into one. The Cook County state's attorney and the Illinois attorney general said they sided with the lawsuits and would not defend the 16-year-old state law.
"Beauman told Judge Sophia Hall today that along with the Illinois Family Institute's work on implementing the original state law banning gay marriage, the absence of any defense from the state creates 'a more compelling reason to let the Illinois Family Institute in to assist on the case,'" the Chicago Tribune reported.
Following the state officials' refusal to defend the law, two downstate county clerks represented by the Thomas More Society were granted the right to intervene and defend the measure. In addition to the Illinois Family Institute, the Arlington Heights-based Church of Christian Liberty and Bensenville-based Grace Gospel Fellowship also want to intervene on the grounds that a change in the law could threaten their religious freedom, according the Journal Star. Judge Hall will make a decision after the churches' oral arguments, which are scheduled for November 7.
Attorneys for the ACLU and Lambda Legal argued that IFI does not have enough stake in the case to meet the standard for intervention. The attorneys suggested it would be more appropriate for IFI and the churches to file "friends of the court" briefs in the case, the Tribune reported.