The Chicago Family Law Blog

Will California's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Affect Illinois?

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Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled recently that the voter-approved measure banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. And while it's still in legal limbo, same sex couples theoretically have the right to marry in California.

But gay and lesbian couples in Chicago that want to get hitched in California may need to wait a while, as Chicago family law attorneys also would advise. The ruling already has been appealed to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals by backers of Proposition 8 (Prop 8), the measure voted into law on 2008.

Prop 8 received most of its financial backing from the Mormon church, which ironically was persecuted for its own particularly unpopular marriage customs in the 19th Century. The church eventually banned polygamy in 1890 so that Utah could join the union, according to

The appeal may go all the way to the US Supreme Court, since it's a federal case, and has implications well beyond California. Depending on how far this case goes and how the Justices decide, it very well could set legal precedent for Illinois and all 50 states.

While same-sex partners in Chicago have every reason to celebrate, most understand they'll have to be patient. The law moves relatively slow and with good reason; a Supreme Court ruling would impact the status of countless domestic relationships across the country and shouldn't be taken lightly.

In a Chicago Now article about the ruling, writer Brian C. Thomas points out how his own union actually would have been illegal in some states prior to the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling (Loving v. Virginia) that the state's prohibition of interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

And regardless of the will of the majority in the Prop 8 passage, Loving v. Virginia as well as the case banning school segregation (Brown v. Board of Education) were all about protecting the civil rights of minorities from the will of the majority.

Many believe the same-sex marriage issue is strikingly similar.

Related Resources:

  • Same-Sex Marriage: A Historical Introduction (FindLaw)
  • Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
  • Prop 8 Found Unconstitutional by Federal Court (FindLaw's Decided Blog)



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