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Marriage coalition restructuring
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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The coalition of organizations working pass equal marriage in Illinois has announced plans to restructure after a push to pass equal marriage by the end of this year's spring session fell short May 31.

Illinois Unites for Marriage—a coalition headed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Unions of Illinois and Equality Illinois—will hire a full-time campaign manager and expand its field team.

The announcement comes after weeks of coalition meetings addressing the Illinois House's failure to vote on equal marriage by session's end May 31.

"The frustration and disappointment felt across the state when the marriage bill was not called for a vote has been channeled into refocused work and dedication at Illinois Unites to win the freedom to marry," said Jim Bennett, a chair of the Illinois Unites coalition, in a statement. "Not only is marriage for same-sex couples coming to Illinois, it will arrive with a strong bedrock of LGBT and allied organizations ready to support all those who wish to marry the person they love."

Among reported issues within the coalition was a perceived lack of collaboration with LGBT leaders of color.

The coalition, which contains several prominent LGBT groups representing communities of color, will include more of its members at regular meetings, the coalition said. Citizen Action Illinois, The Human Rights Campaign, the Chicago Urban League, Freedom to Marry and The Civil Rights Agenda will be among the groups at the table.

The coalition is also kicking off a search for a campaign manager and adding to its organizing team. That team will be working within target districts, adding to the number of door knocks and calls to those areas.

Finally, the group has committed to holding nine public meetings throughout the state by mid-July.

Alongside that news was a separate announcement from Equality Illinois, which is launching a "Fight Back for Marriage" campaign, aimed at putting pro-LGBT lawmakers into office and educating Illinoisans about marriage equality. The campaign commits $.5 million to supportive candidates and education for 2014.

Half the funds will go into political campaigns, while the other half will go to opposing anti-gay advocacy.

"No opponents of marriage equality can be sure that their re-election campaigns will be easy next year," said Jeremy Gottschalk, chair of Equality Illinois PAC board of directors, in a statement.

Groups in the Illinois Unites for Marriage Coalition include:

Affinity Community Services

African American Lesbian Professionals Having a Say

AIDS Foundation of Chicago

All Saints' Justice Circle

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31

Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA)

Anti Defamation League

Center on Halsted

Chicago Bar Association

Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus

Chicago House

Chicago Jobs with Justice

Citizen Action/Illinois

The Civil Rights Agenda

Community Alliance and Action Network (CAAN)

Decalogue Society of Lawyers

Equality Illinois

Family Equality Council

Freedom to Marry

Gay and Lesbian Association of Decatur (GLAD)

Grassroots Collaborative

Howard Brown Health Center

Human Rights Campaign

Illinois Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics

Illinois Department of Human Rights

Illinois Federation of Teachers

Illinois Psychological Association

Illinois Safe Schools Alliance

Illinois State Bar Association

Lambda Legal

Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC)

Marriage Equality USA

Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) - Midwest Regional Office

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - Illinois Chapter

National Museum of Mexican Fine Art

National Organization for Women (NOW)

Peace and Justice Committee of the Episcopal Diocese Chicago

PFLAG Belleville

PFLAG Bloomington/Normal

PFLAG Northern Illinois Council (14 Chapters)

Phoenix Center

Prairie Pride Coalition

Public Pride Alliance

Quad Citians Affirming Diversity

Rainbow Cafe of Carbondale

ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare IL and IN

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73

The Shaw Law Group — Jennifer A. Shaw, P.C.

Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN)

UE Western Region


The UP Center of Champaign County

Urban League

Youth Pride Services

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