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Antigay, Pro-Gay Rallies Set for Chicago

Antigay, Pro-Gay Rallies Set for Chicago


As gay Illinois residents gear up for the start of civil unions June 1, right-wing activists are planning an anti-marriage equality rally in Chicago for Friday, and LGBT advocates are organizing a counterdemonstration.

Americans for Life, an antigay, anti-abortion group based in the Chicago suburbs, is organizing the rally, to be held at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's in the Loop, a Catholic church at 110 W. Madison St., followed by a march to the nearby Thompson Center, which houses Illinois government offices. The rally, with speakers including longtime antigay activist Peter LaBarbera, will launch the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative, urging the state legislature "to secure by law the definition of marriage in Illinois between one man and one woman."

An Illinois statute already limits marriage to heterosexual couples, but the state constitution is silent on the matter, and constitutional bans are more difficult to overcome. Civil unions, which become available to both gay and straight couples in Illinois beginning June 1 as a new state law goes into effect, provide some of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Organizers of the counterprotest say the antigay activists clearly want to put anti-equality measures before voters; they note that Minnesotans will vote next year on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. "While a statewide ballot question in Illinois would be advisory, we dare not be complacent as the history of antigay referenda is that heightened hate violence and discrimination invariably accompany these votes," said Bob Schwartz of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network, which is sponsoring the demonstration along with LGBT Change and Join the Impact. "Our Illinois politicians of both parties are notoriously weak and prone to blowing with the political winds. A successful antigay referendum could provide the impetus to cause them to cave in significant ways, such as weakening our civil unions legislation."

For more on the event, click here.

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