Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Tuesday April 28th, 2015, 4:36pm

After Supreme Court Oral Arguments, Chicago LGBT Advocates To Rally For Marriage Equality

Following Tuesday's historic U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, LGBT Chicagoans and advocates plan to rally at Federal Plaza this evening.

Consolidated cases currently before the nation's high court involve gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Back in November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the four aforementioned states with the same-sex marriage bans, marking the first time a federal appeals court found such prohibitions to be constitutional.

As a result of the conflicting rulings on gay marriage among the federal circuit courts, the Supreme Court opted to weigh in on whether same-sex couples have a contitutional right to marry.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 36 U.S. states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia.

Tuesday's high-profile oral arguments centered around two key questions. One is whether states can ban same-sex marriages. The other: whether states must recognize lawful gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

The justices appeared split today along conservative and liberal lines on the question of whether same-sex couples have a right to marry under the federal Constitution, according to reports. Some observers say Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy could be swing votes on the matter.

Andy Thayer with the Gay Liberation Network is one of the organizers spearheading Tuesday's rally in Chicago.

"Conceivably, the Court's decision this year could be about more than just marriage, but our 'equal protection' under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, paving the way for banning discrimination against LGBTs in public accommodations, even housing and employment as well," Thayer noted in a statement. "On the other hand, this same court has given us shockingly reactionary rulings, such as Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, and so the notion that we should be complacent about the court's forthcoming ruling is exceedingly foolish. As grassroots Hoosiers have shown us, you have to fight to win your rights.

"How the court decides these issues can be as much about public opinion -- expressed through public demonstrations -- as anything else," he continued. "LGBTQ people have always deserved equal rights, but it's only in recent years with voice from American communities that the courts are responding. That's why the April 28th rally is so important."

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov also issued a recent statement weighing in on the same-sex marriage cases under consideration by the justices. 

"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," he said.

As for the question before the court of whether states can ban same-sex marriage, Cherkasov said, "Freedoms cannot be taken away just because we cross state lines."

"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," he noted. "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."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the case in June.


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