Nine months after the Illinois State Board of Elections refused to certify an anti-same-sex marriage referendum proposed by the conservative group Protect Marriage Illinois ( PMI ) , it appears that another drive to place the same measure on the 2008 ballot.
The Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) recently issued a press release discussing the new drive, with lists of advantages and drawbaks that anti- and pro-LGBT supporters have.
Last summer, several organizations—including GLN and Fair Illinois—countered PMI's referendum push by checking the validity of hundreds of thousands of signatures. However, However, a sample of the names did not satisfy the state's requirement of 95 percent; only 91 percent were considered valid, leading the elections board to issue its ruling on Aug. 11.
The GLN release states, in part, that 'anti-gay forces have several advantages ... compared to their last effort,' among them experienced conservative activists who will not repeat the errors committed last year. However, the statement also mentions splits in the anti-LGBT contingent ( naming Peter LaBarbera's departure from the Illinois Family Institute ) and Illinois itself becoming increasing pro-LGBT as reasons for the gay community to be optimistic.
The referendum drive comes as House Bill 1826, which would grant same-sex couples in Illinois civil unions, is being considered in the state House. In February, Harris introduced a bill, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. However, after speaking with his colleagues, he decided it would be best to take a different approach in order to give gay Illinoisans the rights and protections they need as soon as possible.
In opposition to the drive, the GLN has already started what it calls the 'Occupation Project,' which would involve 'a non-violent occupation of the Cook County marriag elicense bureau in the event of a passsage of the advisory referendum in November 2008.' The plan's pledge is at the organization's Web site, www.GayLiberation.net .