Benson on Illinois' same-sex marriage ban case

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Cook County Circuit Judge Sophia Hall is expected to rule on a challenge to the state of Illinois’ 17-year-old same-sex marriage ban when court resumes later next month. Professor Sara R. Benson, an expert on sexual orientation and the law, offers some insight on the case in an interview with the Illinois News Bureau:

"The state of Illinois is the next fighting ground for gay rights. This lawsuit is happening at this time because Illinois has made some progress. That is, we have civil unions, and the state Legislature has been proposing same-sex marriage and gotten it passed through one legislative body.

But are we on the cutting edge? No. DOMA has already been struck down; the Prop. 8 litigation has been settled; and states like Iowa and Massachusetts have already legalized same-sex marriage.

So Illinois is certainly not at the vanguard. But is it important? Yes. The Supreme Court made it very clear in Windsor that they consider gay marriage to be a state law issue. Part of the decision in Windsor is an idealized federalism, saying, in effect, that this is an issue for the states to figure out, and we’re not going to unilaterally say we need same-sex marriage for everyone. That means you’re going to see the fights rev up at the state level, and Illinois is a prime example."

More at the Illinois News Bureau