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Illinois prosecutors refuse to defend ban on marriage equality

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [pictured] and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez have refused to defend the 16-year-old ban on same-sex marriage – saying it violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause. The current law defines marriage as between a man and a woman. “I took an oath when I was sworn in to defend the constitution of the state of Illinois and I believe that’s what I’m doing,” Alvarez said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m not going to defend something I believe is in violation of the constitution.”

The Obama administration last year announced it would not defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, though the U.S. House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group took up the defense. A federal appeals court in California recently declined to reconsider its decision to strike down that state’s ban on gay marriage, a case that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, the District of Columbia and seven states – Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont – have legalized marriage equality. Voters in Washington state will decide whether to overturn a new law legalizing gay marriage, which was blocked from taking effect after opponents got enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.

[via AP]