Illinois is the current battleground for marriage equality, and for the first time, the LGBT groups seem to be taking this issue seriously. The original efforts were largely botched due to the inability of the groups to coordinate their efforts, and the local groups were largely ignored.
To begin with, former Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady has been retained by the ACLU of Illinois to lobby Republican legislators into backing the marriage equality bill. Specifically, they hired Next Generation Public Affairs, a government affairs and PR firm founded by Brady and Matt Strawn.
However, Brady will act as the primary lobbyist on this issue by lobbying “Republicans and other like-minded folks, but primarily Republicans” in the Illinois House.
He noted that his efforts are “narrowly focused on the 10 or 11 (Republican lawmakers) who were open to the possibility of voting ‘yes’ on this.”
Brady noted that the ACLU does not give money away to help get lawmakers elected or reelected, but that other groups have pledged to protect anyone who votes for the measure. This is especially necessary for Republicans who are looking at a possible vote for marriage equality in terms of the upcoming primaries where they could be challenged by Tea Party activists.
Brady also noted that “Nationally and Illinois, the point is, this is going to be the law. This is the direction things are going. I think a lot of people recognize that and want to be supportive of this.”
Brady’s support for marriage equality is what got him kicked from the chairmanship of the Illinois GOP.
Meanwhile, Illinois Unites For Marriage has released a new campaign video. It features “the voices of average Chicagoans interviewed as part of the audience during the annual Bud Billiken parade, the oldest and largest African—American parade in the nation. The video was distributed to supporters via social media and email, accompanied by calls for supporters to contact their legislators and to join in the effort to win the freedom to marry in Illinois.”
Among the people to voice their support are those who say that “everybody should have the same rights, every human being” and “equal rights should be respected for what it truly is.”
The group notes that, because same-sex couples cannot marry in Illinois, they lack any protections or benefits that come from the federal government.
The ad concludes with supporters saying that “this is where we are, this is where we grew up, this where we should live and be a family.”
Meanwhile, the Rainbow Sash Movement is warning “The Catholic Conference of Illinois under the leadership of Cardinal Francis George will again be leading the opposition to passage of Gay Marriage this fall. The clarion call of Catholic Teaching supposedly supported by natural law is that homosexuals are morally disordered will be the rally call.”
They go on to say that “Look for Cardinal George to bring the discussion of Gay Marriage under the mantle of lust and chastity when he needs examples of virtue and vice. He may not be as honest as Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu when he openly promotes discrimination against the LGBT Community, but no less effective with his homophobic view of the world.”
And note that Cardinal George “would have us believe his understanding of religious freedom protected under the First Amendment versus equal protection covered under the Fourteenth Amendment support his anti-Gay Marriage position.”
They conclude “Many in our community are growing increasingly angry first at the Catholic Church for its opposition to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage and then at Catholics themselves for belonging to such a church. In my opinion, we can no longer be immune to this criticism and write it off to anti-Catholicism. We must be accountable to each other when we speak of homophobia as it impacts our civil rights movement particularly in the arena of Gay Marriage.”
Look for the battle to heat up this upcoming summer.