From Associated Press
May 30, 2012 11:22 AM EDT
CHICAGO (AP) — More than two dozen gay and lesbian couples filed lawsuits Wednesday arguing that it's unconstitutional for Illinois to deny them the right to marry, a move advocates hope will lead to legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
The two lawsuits — backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the New York-based gay advocacy group Lambda Legal — include couples from the Chicago area, Bloomington and Marion. Both challenge a state law that defines marriage as between a man and woman, arguing that the Illinois Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry under due process and equality clauses.
Legislation to eliminate the law's language that prohibits gay marriage is pending, but a vote isn't expected before the legislative session is scheduled to end this week. And although Illinois enacted same-sex civil unions last year, couples in the lawsuits said the limited rights and protections make them feel like second-class citizens.
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"It's not the same thing as a marriage. We want our relationship, our love and our commitment we've shown for 15 years to be recognized like everybody else's," Lazaro said. "When you're growing up, you don't dream of civil unions."