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Illinois Marriage Equality Backers Finally Get Organized

Flag_of_Illinois.svgIllinois advocates for same-sex marriage appear to finally be getting into gear, and it might or might not spell life for the bill in the long run. Rather than just protesting in a tantrum over the lack of a vote on the final bill in the Illinois House, several groups are starting to lobby.

Illinois Unites for Marriage, the umbrella organization for the effort, recently announced that they have hired a campaign manager to lead the efforts to get marriage equality voted on and passed this year. The group includes Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal among others and has some pretty wealthy LGBT backers behind it.

They have also brought on board Citizen Action, the Chicago Urban League and the Civil Rights Agenda. The last group has been rather vocal about the fact that the majority of the efforts to pass same-sex marriage in Illinois came from without the state rather than within. Rick Garcia, the head of the marriage equality wing of TCRA, also released a statement when the bill did not come up for a vote noting that IUM excluded far too many local groups.

Additionally, Equality Illinois is planning to raise another $500,000 for a pro-marriage equality campaign to try and get the bill passed. According to Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov, about half of that money will be put aside to protect the seats for those who vote for marriage equality. They may need more money.

Meanwhile, Greg Hinz at Chicago Business also noted that:

But smarter yet would be for advocates to take advantage of huge crowds expected for Chicago’s gay-pride events the next two weekends and whether they can leverage reaction to the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on the marriage-rights issue.

Over the past weekend, one pro-marriage group turned out all of 15 or so folks for a demonstration in Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office, accusing the speaker of stalling the bill. Even if they’re right — and chief bill sponsor Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, says they’re not — turning up 15 people is counterproductive.

He is not the only one to be critical of these protests. It is not necessarily just the low numbers who turned out, but the protests against supporters of the legislation that can be counterproductive too.

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