Supreme Court Hearing on Marriage Cases Important to Illinois Couples
Critical issues affect families even in states where marriage equality is recognized
CHICAGO (April 24, 2015) – When the U.S. Supreme Court convenes this coming Tuesday to hear the cases on marriage equality, Illinois couples and families who are already protected under our state’s freedom to marry will be as interested and concerned as people living in the states where that freedom is not yet recognized.
“Freedoms cannot be taken away just because we cross state lines,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
Whether states must recognize the same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions is one of the two issues before the court. That question is of particular importance to couples who can marry in Illinois.
“Even after all the legislative actions and court rulings that have brought marriage equality to more than 70 percent of the U.S. population, a same-sex married couple still cannot drive east-to-west in the United States without having their status return to unmarried at least some of the time,” Cherkasov said.
“Couples with children could find their family status challenged and one spouse might not be able to deal with an emergency on behalf of the entire family. Some critical federal programs such as Social Security or veterans benefits are still being denied legally married couples depending on where they live because the state of their residence refuses to recognize them as married,” he said.
Many married Illinois same-sex couples vacation in Michigan, only 54 miles away, where they lose the protections and recognition they enjoy in Illinois.
Whether the states are required by the Constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment, to license a marriage between two people of the same sex is the second question before the court.
“Only a national recognition of the equal treatment required by our Constitution can bring the freedom to marry throughout the U.S. and end that inequity,” Cherkasov said.
“Beyond the legal arguments, the nationwide recognition of same-sex married couples sends a powerful message that we and our families should be treated equally and justly through all facets of life, that we must move from a legal equality to a lived equality where we live, go to school, work and retire.”