Law Firm Wants Help Fighting Gay Marriage

Thomas More Society: Not having the ban "will wreak havoc on [other] counties' marriage laws"

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    An Illinois judge on Thursday approved the combination of two sets of lawsuits challenging the state's existing law. As those suits go forward, opponents say they're looking for partners and ways to intervene. Charlie Wojciechowski reports.

    An Illinois law firm that opposes gay marriage is asking state's attorneys and clerks from Illinois counties to band together to defend a state law that allows civil unions but doesn't recognize same-sex unions.

    The Thomas More Society's request comes in response to an announcement made by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez that they would not defend the ban on gay marriage, claiming it violates the Illinois constitution's equal protection clause.

    "Without an intervener allowed into the case, the circuit court will strike down the law, and you're going to have all of these couples from all over the state of Illinois get marriage licenses here in Cook County, and then take them home," Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the Thomas More Society told reporters. "And that will wreak havoc on their own counties' marriage laws."

    Breen said his law firm would be "seeking relief from the court," and some experts believe the Thomas More Society may seek standing to defend the ban themselves, according to AP.

    Experts say that could open the firm up to animosity, adding that it shouldn't be a private firm defending a state law anyway.

    "Show me where it says any elected official, especially a prosecutor, can say, 'I won't defend law passed by a legislative body that is my coequal,' said former prosecutor and state appellate judge David Erickson. "Only one body can say it's unconstitutional and that's the (Illinois) Supreme Court."

    Madigan and Alvarez said defending the ban would be against the oath they took when they were being sworn in to defend the state's constitution.

    "I'm not going to defend something I believe is in violation of the constitution," said Alvarez.

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