Opponents of the Illinois civil unions law that takes effect this week want a referendum that allows people to vote on the measure.
The Chicago Tribune reports on demonstrations held in downtown Chicago Friday between supporters and opponents of the new law, which would give same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights as married couples in the state. Illinois will begin issuing civil unions licenses on Wednesday, followed by a ceremony for 30 same-sex couples in Millennium Park the next day.
"There's a battle between gay rights and religious freedom," said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, as he showed people how to complete the signature sheets on which he and other opponents will try to collect the required 300,000 signatures. "We want to give Illinois voters the same opportunity other states have had."
Civil union opponents launched the drive for an advisory referendum petition on a constitutional amendment to ban marriage and marriage-like rights for same-sex couples. If the petition garners enough signatures, it would head to voters in 2012, where a majority would need to approve it in order for the state legislature to take up the amendment, which would then return to voters for a final vote.