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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Marriage equality: The timeline
by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times

This article shared 5467 times since Wed Apr 29, 2015
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As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the history of marriage equality nationally, here is a look at the marriage equality movement in Illinois, as well as nationally. This timeline is from the book The Fight for Marriage Equality in the Land of Lincoln, by Kate Sosin and Tracy Baim, published in 2014.


August: ONE homosexual magazine cover story headline reads "Homosexual Marriage."


Illinois passes law that permits legal adoption of an adult provided the adult had lived in the petitioner's home for two consecutive years. John Gregg Allerton's oral history states that Robert Allerton was the first to adopt under the new law, when he adopted John under a decree issued by Judge Henry T. Dighton of Monticello, Piatt County.


During a legislative vote on a new state criminal code, Illinois becomes the first U.S. state to remove its sodomy law from the statutes.


December: The Reverend Troy Perry, two months after founding the gay Metropolitan Community Churches, performs what is believed to be the first public same-sex wedding ceremony in the U.S., for two Latino men in California. The next year he performs a California marriage that is the first to legally challenge marriage inequality; it loses.


May 18: Jack Baker and James Michael McConnell apply for a marriage license in Minneapolis. Hennepin County denies the request, and subsequent court challenges lead to U.S. Supreme Court dismissal of the case, based on "want of a substantial federal question."


March 27: The first same-sex marriage license is issued in Boulder, Colorado. Five more would follow before the courts shut them down.

October 20: Two Chicago women are arrested applying for a marriage license in Cook County.


With the AIDS crisis striking, activists begin to realize the devastating effect of not having legal protections in place for couples. Because activists are fighting for their lives and the lives of those they love, there is not yet a big focus on marriage. However, there is a push in some countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, for registered partnerships and similar laws.

Oct. 10, 1987: During the weekend of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, activist Robin Tyler produced an independent event that attracted thousands of couples for a marriage ceremony. Rev. Troy Perry spoke, and Dina Bachelor performed the nuptials. Perry subsequently held marriage ceremonies at the 1993 and 2000 Marches on Washington.


December: Three same-sex couples try to apply for a marriage license in Hawaii, sparking the modern U.S. movement for marriage equality. The case is lost, but it causes a backlash federally and in states across the country. Ultimately, a federal Defense of Marriage Act passes and is signed into law by President Clinton, allegedly as a way to stave off a federal constitutional amendment push, and dozens of states pass their own DOMAs, including Illinois, by the mid—1990s.


February: In a response to a questionnaire by Chicago's Outlines newspaper ( now Windy City Times ), Illinois state Senate candidate Barack Obama says he supports same-sex marriage and would fight laws that try to ban it.


April: The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to legalize marriage between two people of the same sex ( Belgium follows in 2003 ).


Feb. 12: Attorney Gloria Allred announces lawsuit for marriage rights for her clients—Robin Tyler and her partner Diane Olson, and Rev. Troy Perry and his partner Phillip DeBlick (for the state of California to recognize Perry and DeBlick's Canadian marriage)—on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse. Tyler v State of California was filed Feb. 23, 2004. Canada was the first state to recognize same-sex marriages from another country, and from another state. The case was eventually consolidated with the City of San Francisco's lawsuit that was filed March 12, 2004.

Feb. 12: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom orders the county clerk's office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, something that continues through March 11, when he is forced to stop under court order; by this time about 4,000 licenses have been issued.

May 17: Same-sex marriages begin in Massachusetts after the state Supreme Judicial Court rules the marriage ban unconstitutional. It is the sixth jurisdiction to get marriage equality, and the first in the U.S.


July: Spain and Canada become the third and fourth countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage legislatively ( Spain was 17 days ahead of Canada, though most of Canada had already seen same-sex marriage legalized through court decisions beginning in 2003 ).


Nov. 30: The South African Constitutional Court legalizes same-sex marriages.


June 16: California begins issuing licenses to gay couples after the ruling in the case In re Marriage Cases, but they are halted November 4 after passage of Proposition 8, a voter initiative banning such marriages. This sets off a long legal challenge, which ends in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court sends the case back to the lower court to close out without disturbing that court's decision, which had already declared Prop 8 unconstitutional.

Robin Tyler and her partner Diane Olson are the first to file a case to overturn Prop 8, the California marriage ban passed by voters the previous day. Tyler v State of California was fighting the Prop 8 " state constitutional amendment created by opponents of same-sex marriage in advance of the California Supreme Court 's May 2008 appeal ruling, In re Marriage Cases, which followed the short-lived 2004 same-sex weddings controversy and found the previous ban on same-sex marriage ( Proposition 22 , 2000) unconstitutional . Proposition 8 was also ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a federal court (on different grounds) in 2010, although the court decision did not go into effect until June 26, 2013, following the conclusion of proponents' appeals" at the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Wikipedia.


Dec. 1: The Illinois Senate passes a bill creating civil unions with all the state-level rights and obligations of marriage.

Dec. 16: Rick Garcia is fired from Equality Illinois, which had the successful civil-union effort during his tenure.


Jan. 31: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs the civil-union bill into law.

June 1: The civil-union law takes effect in Illinois.

Aug. 17: Catholic Charities faces off against the state of Illinois, the ACLU and Lambda Legal in a Sangamon County court over foster-care contracts. Circuit Court Judge John Schmidt weighs the question of whether the Charities had a right to the contracts, but declines to hear arguments about religious freedom or anti-gay discrimination.

Aug. 18: Judge Schmidt rules against Catholic Charities, saying the organization was not entitled to the contracts and that the state had a legal right refuse them.


Jan. 9: State Representative Greg Harris announces he has been in talks with LGBT organizations and other lawmakers about introducing a marriage-equality bill in Illinois.

Feb. 8: A bill to enact the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, H.B. 5170, is introduced.

Feb. 15: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledges his support for marriage equality in Illinois.

February: Following the filing of the marriage-equality bill, Governor Pat Quinn comes under scrutiny for wavering on the marriage-equality issue. He declines to take a firm stance.

April 15: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Harris will not call for a vote on the marriage bill as the Legislature focuses on fiscal issues during election season. "I never say never," Harris told the Sun-Times. "[But] I don't think there will be a push before the end of this session."

April 25: Equality Illinois holds its annual Lobby Days in Springfield and focuses on marriage equality. The move raises eyebrows as lawmakers are not considering the marriage bill, and LGBT groups are heavily invested in a bill that bolsters anti-bullying protections for LGBT youth in the state. The bullying bill ultimately fails.

May 9: President Obama comes out in favor of same-sex marriage, returning to his 1996 support of the issue.

May 30: On behalf of 25 same-sex couples, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois file suit against Cook County Clerk David Orr, challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

June 1: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan declares that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and files to intervene in favor of 25 same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in Illinois.

June 13—14: Cook County Clerk David Orr refuses to defend himself in the lawsuit seeking to end the ban on same-sex marriage. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez backs Orr and also refuses to fight the ban, leaving the state law undefended in an unprecedented move by state officials. Peter Breen—executive director of the Thomas More Society, a law firm that opposes same-sex marriage—announces that his firm will find interveners to defend the ban. He later intervenes on behalf of county clerks.

July 2: Attorney Breen is granted intervention in the ACLU and Lambda Legal lawsuits, on behalf of two downstate county clerks seeking to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage.

Sept. 30: Equality Illinois announces that it will open two satellite offices in Springfield and in DuPage County. The move forecasts a possible push for equal marriage in the state.

Oct. 21: Equality Illinois holds a small political event in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood with Harris, Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Chicago Sun-Times political columnist Laura Washington. At the event, Harris tells supporters that Obama's re-election could weigh heavily for Illinois marriage, and he hints that he is considering calling for a vote on marriage equality during the upcoming lame-duck legislative session in January.

Nov. 6: LGBTs see sweeping victories in local and national elections. Maine, Maryland and Washington vote to legalize same-sex marriage, while Minnesota votes down an amendment to ban it. President Obama defeats Mitt Romney. In Illinois, Sam Yingling becomes the first openly gay state representative elected outside Cook County. So significant are LGBT victories across the nation that some analysts call the election the most important day for gay rights since the Stonewall rebellion.

Dec. 13: Crain's Chicago Business reports that Harris and Senator Heather Steans plan on making a run at the marriage bill during the General Assembly's lame-duck session the following month.

Dec. 20: LGBT groups announce formation of the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, dedicated to passing the marriage-equality bill.

Dec. 29: President Barack Obama endorses same-sex marriage in Illinois.


Jan 2: Sponsors begin the first push to pass marriage equality during the Illinois Legislature's lame-duck veto session.

Jan 3: The marriage-equality bill passes the Senate Executive Committee but sponsors conclude that there is not enough time to pass it through both chambers, and they withdraw efforts until new lawmakers take office the following week.

Jan. 9: New lawmakers are sworn in, and sponsors reintroduce the bill.

Feb. 1: Senate President John Cullerton announces that he wants to move the marriage-equality bill forward on Valentine's Day.

Feb. 14: Illinois Senate passes the bill.

March 13: House Speaker Michael Madigan tells reporters that the bill is 12 votes short of the 60 it needs to pass in the House.

March 14: Despite Madigan's comments to the press, Illinois Unites for Marriage advocates go to Springfield in anticipation of a possible House vote. The day ends without any action on the bill.

May 21: Harris replies "absolutely" when asked by Windy City Times about calling for a vote on marriage equality by session's end May 31 and about whether the measure would pass. Advocates disseminate his answer widely in an effort to hold him accountable.

May 31: Harris declines to call for a vote on marriage equality, setting off a backlash against him and Illinois Democrats and devastating families in the House speaker's gallery who had attended in anticipation of a vote.

June 1: LGBTs protest the marriage shortfall in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood.

June 26: Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying it goes against states' rights, equal protection, and due process. The case is United States v. Windsor. The same court returns the Prop 8 appeal back to the lower courts, thus allowing marriages to restart in California.

July 13: LGBTs march in downtown Chicago for marriage equality in an action timed to coincide with the annual "Taste of Chicago," the city's largest festival.

Oct. 22: The March on Springfield for Marriage Equality is held, a grassroots effort to bring thousands of people from across the state to the Capitol.

Nov. 4: The steering committee of Illinois Unites for Marriage meets with Harris to determine the fate of the bill.

Nov. 5: The House passes the bill.

Nov. 20: Governor Quinn signs the bill into law.

Nov. 27: By court order, longtime Chicago lesbian activist Vernita Gray marries Pat Ewert, her partner of five years, in a ceremony in their North Side home. They are the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Illinois. Two days earlier, a federal court ordered Cook County Clerk David Orr's office to immediately issue a marriage license to the couple, and it did so. Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois filed the case November 22, seeking immediate action because of Gray's failing health and what it said was the unconstitutionality of Illinois' existing marriage law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin issued the decision. Gray passes away a few months later, on March 19, 2014.

Dec. 9: A federal district judge issues an order that says same-sex couples wherein a partner faces a serious medical complication can marry in Cook County ahead of the scheduled June 1, 2014, original start date of marriage equality because the existing Illinois marriage law is unconstitutional. Judge Sharon Coleman, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, makes the ruling in a case brought by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, as well as the law firms of Kirkland & Ellis and Miller Shakman & Beem. Elvie Jordan and Challis Gibbs wed in their North Side home December 12, while Ronald Dorfman and Ken Ilio marry December 13. Dorfman passes away on February 10 and Gibbs on February 24.


Feb. 21: Judge Coleman, in another Lambda-ACLU case, rules there is no reason to further delay same-sex marriages in Cook County. LGBTs from all over the state are allowed to obtain marriage licenses in Cook County. Soon, other counties start to issue licenses, ahead of the June 1 effective date of the new marriage bill. Chicagoans Charles Gurion and David Wilk are first in line for the new license. Theresa and Mercedes Santos-Volpe, the longtime couple who are plaintiffs in that lawsuit, have their three children with them that day. The one-day waiting period is waived for them and they are married the same day, by County Clerk Orr himself.

June 1: All 102 Illinois counties start implementation of the marriage equality law.

This article shared 5467 times since Wed Apr 29, 2015
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