American Scene: Assembly OKs adding bank settlement into law

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SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers have approved making California the first state to write into law much of the national mortgage settlement negotiated this year with the nation’s top five banks.

The bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday would expand the protections to all lenders.

The measure negotiated by majority Democrats passed despite opposition from business and lending organizations.

It requires large lenders to provide a single point of contact for homeowners who want to discuss loan modifications. It prohibits lenders from foreclosing while the lenders consider homeowners’ requests for alternatives to foreclosure. It also would let homeowners sue lenders to stop foreclosures or seek monetary damages if the lender violates state law.

Many of the restrictions would become permanent, while those in the nationwide agreement end after five years.


Clerks to defend marriage law

CHICAGO — Two Illinois county clerks are seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 25 same-sex couples who want to overturn the state’s marriage law.

Christie Webb, clerk of Tazewell County, and Kerry Hirtzel, clerk of Effingham County, are scheduled to seek intervenor status at a hearing Tuesday before Judge Sophia Hall in Cook County Circuit Court.

The clerks already have filed papers asking the judge to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaints on grounds that the marriage law is valid and constitutional.

“All of the plaintiffs’ claims” that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act “violate the Illinois Constitution are meritless,” said the clerks, who are represented by their states’ attorneys and attorneys with the Thomas More Society.

The Illinois Family Institute also seeks to defend the state marriage law with assistance from lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund.

The 25 gay couples filed their lawsuits in May with assistance from Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union; those lawsuits have been combined.

Illinois’ marriage law was updated in 1996 to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and prohibit marriages “between 2 individuals of the same sex.”

After the gay couples filed their lawsuit, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other state officials said they would not defend the law because they agree with the plaintiffs that it is unconstitutional.

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