Judge OKs Illinois Catholic group’s request for brief in marriage lawsuit

A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled  that an Illinois Catholic public policy group is allowed to file a brief as a friend of the court, opposing the lawsuit challenging the state’s marriage law Monday.

The ruling, made by Judge Sophia Hall, granted the Catholic Conference of Illinois, an organization that lobbies for legislation on behalf of bishops and lay Catholics, leave to become an “amicus curiae” — or friend of the court — and file a brief stating that they support the state’s current marriage law, which prohibits same-sex marriage.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Conference could not provide any further details.

“We filed a motion to ask the court if we can file a motion to support the intervention,” the spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said. “We will be filing a friend of the court brief in support the state law, which is due Aug. 27.”

The challenge to the state’s law, which was originally filed as two separate lawsuits by the ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal in May, was initially met without formal opposition. Cook County Clerk David Orr, who is cited as the plaintiff in the complaints stated that he would not oppose the challenge in court. In addition, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez vowed not to defend the law in court. The legal challenges have since been consolidated into a single lawsuit.

In June, the Thomas More Society, a conservative public interest law firm that opposes same-sex marriage, was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit to defend the state law and early this month approved the Society’s motion to represent two downstate county clerks in the case as special state’s attorneys.

Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society, said that there were over 10 lawyers in court Monday, where the Illinois Family Institute, an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group, presented its own motion to also intervene in the suit.

“It’s a little unusual to have amici in a trial like this, but with a case like this it’s not,” said Breen. “You typically do that as an appeal. Here, because of the importance of the case, they have asked to appear and have their views heard on the trial.”

In addition, Breen confirmed that the IFI will be represented in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative Christian organization, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund — if the court permits their motion.

Monday’s hearing was also used to set future court dates. The Catholic Conference of Illinois’ brief will be presented in court Aug. 27, according to Breen. His arguments to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety, however, have been pushed back to a later date in the Fall.

When asked if the Thomas More Society, the Illinois Family Institute and the Catholic Conference of Illinois were working as a unified team, Breen said the groups just want to achieve the same thing.

“We’re all kind of pulling in the same direction,” Breen said. “The IFI is pushing with a different purpose, to represent their constituency throughout the state. We all agree on the issue of trying to uphold the law.”