Chi. Won't Interfere With Gay Protest

BY Advocate.com Editors

January 27 2011 8:15 PM ET

The city of Chicago will not enforce an ordinance against protests near places of worship when demonstrators for marriage equality gather outside the city’s Holy Name Cathedral in February.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois had contacted city officials on behalf of the Gay Liberation Network, which is organizing the protest. The ACLU received a reply this week from Chicago city attorney Mara Georges saying the ordinance will not be enforced, which means peaceful protesters need not fear arrest, Gay Liberation Network leaders said.

The ACLU and the network termed the ordinance not only controversial but in violation of constitutional free speech guarantees. It bans protests within 150 feet and 30 minutes of a religious service in a place of worship, with an exception for labor protests. In a statement on its website, the ACLU noted, “The demonstration is planned for the public sidewalk and is not intended to disrupt religious services inside the Cathedral.”

It is planned for 10:30 a.m. February 13, a Sunday, in response to Cardinal Francis George’s lobbying against legislation establishing civil unions for Illinois gay couples. The state legislature nevertheless passed the bill late last year, and Gov. Pat Quinn is set to sign it into law Monday.

The Gay Liberation Network says the protest will center on three themes: “oppose the anti-LGBT bigotry of the Catholic hierarchy [and] support the many pro-equal rights Catholics organizing for change within the denomination”; “demand full equal marriage rights in Illinois”; and “demand that tax dollars no longer go to tax-exempt religious groups that refuse to commit to equal rights for LGBT people.”

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