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Lambda Legal files suit seeking marriage for same-sex couples in Illinois | VIDEO

CHICAGO -- Today, nearly one year after the civil union law took effect, Lambda Legal filed papers in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division on behalf of 16 same-sex couples and their children seeking the freedom to marry.

"One year ago same-sex couples across the state were joined in civil unions. The experiences of the couples and the children in this suit show the hurt, confusion, and private bias that they have encountered as they have lived their lives," said Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project director for Lambda Legal based in the Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

Notably Taylor is the attorney who led the litigation effort and won marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa.

"These couples and their children share a dream of being part of a married family. By excluding them from marriage, and relegating them to civil unions, our government has marked them as different and worth less than other Illinois families -- and that is exactly how others treat them. They have suffered disrespect in schools, workplaces, hospitals, and in their every-day interactions with government for long enough. They should have the freedom to marry - it’s just time," Taylor said.

Lambda Legal represents 16 same-sex couples and their children from across the state of Illinois. The couples have been together between 6 to 48 years and 10 of the couples are raising children. The case argues that barring same-sex couples and their children from marriage is a violation of the Illinois Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection and Due Process.

"Civil unions do not satisfy Illinois' guarantee of equality because they single out a group of people, treat them differently under the law, and deny them the fundamental right to marry," said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. "We are taking this case to court because, in our democracy, it is the job of our courts to uphold the Constitution and protect individual freedom."

Lead plaintiffs Jim Darby and Patrick Bova of Chicago have been together for over 48 years. Darby, who worked in the stockyards before enlisting to fight in the Korean War, and Bova, a librarian, met on the south side of Chicago and fell in love in 1963, and have been in a committed relationship ever since.

"After 48 years together we know very well what it means to love honor and cherish," Darby said. "I have lived in Illinois all my life and I want to marry Patrick here. A civil union doesn't reflect what we mean to each other."

The couples in the case are: Jim Darby, 80, and Patrick Bova, 73, of Chicago; Daphne Scott-Henderson, 41, and Ryan Cannon, 34, of Bloomington; Michelle Chappell, 45, and Michelle Franke, 46, of Champaign; Daryl Rizzo, 47, and Jaime Garcia, 50, of Chicago; Lynne Burnett, 55, and Robyne O’Mara, 56, of Godfrey; Patricia Garcia, 54, and Julie Barton, 50 of Evanston; Bert Morton, 64, and Lee Korty, 53, of Springfield; Theresa Volpe, 41, and Mercedes Santos, 46, of Chicago; Robert Hickok, 42, and Brian Fletcher, 52, of Oak Park; Peggy Burton, 65, and Donna O’Crowly, 66, of Bloomington; LaKeesha Harris, 37, and Janean Watkins, 38, of Chicago; Angelica Lopez, 36, and Claudia Mercado, 36, of Chicago; Tim Rice, 50, and Don Julian, 51, of Alto Pass; Anne Dickey, 37, and Laura Hartman, 34, of Rock Island; Bob Proctor, 49, and Hector Martinez, 49, of Peoria; Brandon Bowersox-Johnson, 31, and Kevin Bowersox-Johnson, 40, of Urbana.

In a separate case filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois represents nine same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. The coordinated marriage cases between Lambda Legal and the ACLU-IL signals the organizations' shared commitment to ensure that the government treats all families fairly.

Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project director, and Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office, are handling the case for Lambda Legal. They are joined by Emily Nicklin, Jordan M. Heinz and Amy Crawford, partners at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago.

Click here to read the complaint HERE.

Learn more about the plaintiff couples and the case HERE.