With Minnesota apparently moving toward an anti-gay referendum in 2012, pro-equality activists in Illinois warn that a similar move appears to be afoot in Illinois, with an anti-gay, anti-abortion rally in downtown Chicago this Friday, May 27 apparently serving as the launch pad for an anti-gay referendum in the Land of Lincoln.
The Gay Liberation Network, LGBT Change and Join the Impact will host a counter-protest against the anti-gay rally, countering the far-right message of legal inequality with rainbow flags and a message that pro-equality forces should not follow the example of California, which only began serious street mobilizations against Proposition 8 after the measure was on the ballot and close to passage.
Pro-gay forces will gather at 10:45 am outside St. Peter's Church, 110 W. Madison Street, Chicago to demonstrate against the far-right activists assembling there and continue to protest against them as they move over to the State of Illinois Building plaza at the corner of Clark and Randolph Streets.
"While a state-wide ballot question in Illinois would be advisory, we dare not be complacent as the history of anti-gay referenda is that heightened hate violence and discrimination invariably accompany these votes," said Bob Schwartz of the Gay Liberation Network ( www.GayLiberation.net ). "Our Illinois politicians of both parties are notoriously weak and prone to blowing with the political winds. A successful anti-gay referendum could provide the impetus to cause them to cave in significant ways, such as weakening our civil unions legislation."
"It is also important that 'gay-rights-only' activists realize that we need to make common cause with pro-choice activists. Our opponents are united in opposing both LGBT's and women's rights because they are fundamentally opposed to people controlling their own sexuality."
One of the speakers at the anti-LGBT, anti-choice rally is Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group." Keynoting their event is Adam Andrzejewski, fringe Republican candidate for Illinois governor, who finished 5th in a field of 6 in his last attempt at the Republican Party nomination.
The far-right, apocalyptic rhetoric of the rally is worthy of a Harold Camping rant. One of the sponsors, Americans For Life, proclaims that
"[We are] United as one to defeat the Proponents of Communism and Fascism who were out to control the lives of the Free World. We must defend the Christian Values we hold dear. We can't wait for others to lead us, as they are showing us minimal leadership and are unwilling to die for their moral beliefs. Are they going to sit out the Culture War, where our enemies are trying to intimidate us, and teaching our children and beautiful grandchildren that homosexuality is normal and must be accepted by passing Civil Union Bill 1716 and demanding we change the definition of Tradition Marriage to accommodate their ungodly behavior. It's time to say NO, we will not dilute the Family unit created by God and we won't give up our moral values as did Illinois' Politicians, the Judas of today, who sell their souls to the Devil in exchange for a few pieces of silver." (emphasis theirs)
For more information about Friday's pro-equality counter-protest, please call the Gay Liberation Network at 773.878.3697 (Bob Schwartz) or 847.847.946.8035 (Roger Fraser). The Gay Liberation Network is an all-volunteer organization which has been organizing for equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people since 1998.