Update: In 2013, the ACLU of Illinois moved to dismiss the case after the Illinois General Assembly approved – and the governor signed – marriage equality for all in our state.  

On behalf of nine Illinois couples seeking recognition for their shared love and commitment, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Illinois have filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Illinois' law that denies gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry. Currently, Illinois law excludes gay and lesbian couples from the recognition and protections that come with the universally recognized relationship status of marriage, and limits them instead to a separate civil union status.

Meet the plaintiffs:

A number of the plaintiffs sought a civil union after they were available in 2011, although some chose to wait for marriage. In the complaint, these couples describe how it feels to be relegated to a legal status that sends the message that the state regards their relationships as inferior. Couples also report the multiple ways in which they are reminded that many people do not understand civil unions, nor do they afford civil unions the same respect as marriage.

In a separate case filed on the same day, Lambda Legal is representing 16 same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. The coordinated cases signal the organizations' shared commitment to ensure that the government treats all families fairly.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Illinois are assisted in the lawsuit by the Chicago office of Mayer Brown.


John Knight, Harvey Grossman, James Esseks (ACLU Nationwide)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Mayer Brown LLP


Circuit Court of Cook County


Hon. Judge Peter Flynn



Case number