Dozens Sue Illinois on Gay Marriage Ban

     CHICAGO (CN) - Twenty-five same-sex couples sued the Cook County Clerk for refusing to issue marriage licenses, in two complaints in Cook County Court.
     Both complaints claim that the state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman violates due process and equal protection clauses of the Illinois Constitution.
     Illinois last year passed a law allowing same-sex couple to enter into civil unions. But the 25 couples in the new lawsuits say civil unions make them feel like second-class citizens.
     Defendant Cook County Clerk David Orr does not oppose gay marriage, though his office denied the marriage licenses. Orr is out of the country, but a spokeswoman in his office issued a statement to The Associated Press on his behalf.
     "The time is long past due for the state of Illinois to allow county clerks to issue marriage licenses to couples who want to make that commitment," the statement said. "I hope this lawsuit clears the last hurdle to achieving equal marriage rights for all."
     Same-sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and six states - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
     Plaintiffs are represented by Emily Nicklin with Kirkland & Ellis, and by the ACLU and Lambda Legal.