A day after more than one million gathered to celebrate Pride in Chicago at a parade dominated by calls for equal marriage, marriage advocates in Illinois have announced further details for the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality on Oct. 22.
The march will be organized by a group of co-chairs drawn from a diverse cross-section of Illinois' lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. Among the 13 statewide co-chairs announced today are 6 women and 7 men with diverse ethnic, racial, religious, and professional backgrounds. The March on Springfield, set for the first scheduled day of the legislature's fall veto session, will operate separately and alongside efforts by Illinois Unites, the broad coalition of more than 50 organizations working to pass equal marriage in Illinois, as well as with grassroots activist groups.
"Marriage equality is supported by a majority of Illinoisans and has new urgency given actions by the U.S. Supreme Court last week," the new group of co-chairs said in a joint statement. "When the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, married couples in 13 states and the District of Columbia gained benefits that are denied to people in Illinois. On Oct. 22, we call on Illinoisans from every walk of life and from every district to come to Springfield and demand full equality for everyone in our State."
The group also announced early details on how corporations, small businesses, and volunteers can get involved in the effort to get people to Springfield. These include crowd sourced funding through an IndieGogo campaign to be launched next week, specially priced bus rentals, and a business partnership campaign to facilitate broad-based participation by companies and their employees in the March. Full details, including full co-chair biographies, are posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarchOnSpringfieldForMarriageEquality.
March on Springfield co-chairs include:
-Solomon Arnold: College student, media personality, and HIV/AIDS educator in the African American house ball community.
-Tracy Baim: Journalist, filmmaker, author, Co-vice chair of the Chicago Gay Games and publisher is publisher of Windy City Times newspaper.
-Kevin Boyer: Marketing professional, community organizer, former Co-vice chair of the Chicago Gay Games, and co-chair of GLAAD Chicago's Leadership Council.
-Buff Carmichael: Longtime media professional, former publisher of the Prairie Flame, and activist in Springfield.
-Brandy Donaldson: Rock Island-based communications professional and activist within the African American lesbian community.
-Emmanuel Garcia: Latino youth activist working with Association of Latin Men for Action, Crossroads Fund, Chicago's largest queer youth prom and Cicero's LGBT community.
-Brent Holman-Gomez: Activist working within the welcoming church movement, immigration equality, and international LGBTQI organizations.
-Kim Hunt: Executive Director of Affinity, an African American LBT women's group, who was also an organizer of the Chicago Gay Games.
-Naomi Lahiri: Queer feminist with expertise in Asian issues, outreach for trans* people of Asian descent, immigrant issues, and domestic violence outreach.
-Alexis Martinez: Transgender activist working on cross-generation work, the Dyke March plus Latino, living wage, education and healthcare issues.
-Chris Mullins: Activist and LGBT rights advocate and Chair of Lambda Legal's Chicago Leadership Council
-Edith Nieves: Long-time activist on union, lesbian, sports and Latina issues; runs Sisters 4LGBTQ Community, a lesbian social network.
-Max Smith: Activist for four decades especially focused on African American men and religious issues, and as a member of Adodi, an African-American men's organization.
For more information, contact Tracy Baim, (773) 387-2394, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the March
The March on Springfield for Marriage Equality will take place on Oct. 22, 2013, the scheduled first day of the fall veto session of the Illinois state legislature. The "March on Springfield" is part of a broad grassroots strategy to secure final passage of Senate Bill 10, the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," already approved by the Illinois Senate. Once adopted, Illinois will become the 14th state plus the District of Columbia, to treat all of its citizens equally under state marriage laws. More details are available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarchOnSpringfieldForMarriageEquality and on Twitter at @IllinoisMarches.
Solomon Arnold, Olive-Harvey College 2013 Valedictorian, is pursuing a bachelor's degree in communications at Chicago State University maintaining a 4.0 GPA. At CAN-TV, Arnold hosts the Russ Meek Speaks Show promoting social justice and equality with a decade of experience facilitating HIV prevention programs and has produced dozens of multifaceted outreach events centered on health education, performing, and visual arts within the "ballroom community" via his own In Demand Entertainment group affiliated with the Icon House of Infiniti as "overall mother." As a community advocate, Arnold cultivates college and career readiness and is active with the Gay Liberation Network, This Is Not Over and the Coalition for Justice & Respect.
Tracy Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Media Group, which produces Windy City Times, Nightspots, and other gay media in Chicago. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985. She has won numerous gay community and journalism honors, including the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award. Baim is the editor and co-author of several books on gay history, gay media and politics. Baim served as co-vice chair of the Chicago Gay Games board. Baim was executive producer of two feature films, was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1994, and was named a Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40 leader in 1995.
Kevin Boyer is a marketing & communications professional who has made Chicago his home for the past 25 years. A longtime activist, he was the co-founder of the Chicagoland Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, co-founded October as LGBT History Month, served 2 years as Board Chair of the Gerber/Hart Library, and was the Co-VP and CMO of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. An inductee into Chicago's Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame, he currently serves as the Co-Chair of the GLAAD Chicago Leadership Council.
Buff Carmichael is a native Texan who has lived in downstate Illinois since 1992. He is retired from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and, for eleven years, published Prairie Flame, a newspaper serving LGBT people and allies throughout downstate Illinois. He lives with his partner, Jerry Bowman, in Springfield, Illinois.
Brandy Donaldson, 30, resides in Rock Island, Ill., where she moved in 2007, from Arkansas, to further her journalism career. She spent 5 years as the political beat reporter for the Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch newspapers. In 2013, she left journalism to become the customer communications manager at MidAmerican Energy Company. Brandy has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in communications management. She also teaches English composition and public speaking courses part-time at Kaplan University in Davenport, Iowa. Brandy co-founded and is vice-president of A.L.P.H.A.S (African-American Lesbian Professionals Having A Say), a not-for-profit LGBT advocacy group started in April 2012.
Emmanuel Garcia is a journalist and community organizer. For the past four years he has been the lead organizer for Chicago's largest queer youth prom. He is the co-founder of the Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA) Scholarship; a scholarship that is awarded annually to two Latino gay, bi youth. Currently he is leading a social marketing campaign in Cicero, IL that addresses the issues of homophobia, transphobia, and HIV/AIDS stigma within the Latino community. Garcia currently sits on the board of directors at Crossroads Fund and Elevarte Community Studio.
Brent Holman-Gomez strengthens church advocacy for LGBTQI persons through his work on the Planning Team of the 60 congregation Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches. His work with Gay Liberation Network has developed international solidarity of LGBTQIs particularly from Iran, Russia, Honduras, and Nigeria, while calling attention to scapegoated individuals and those that would deny us our existence. A proponent of the organization Immigration Equality, Brent finances senior housing and healthcare properties for a living. He and his husband of 12 years speak Spanish at home in Chicago.
Kim Hunt is the executive director of Affinity Community Services. Her long history of community and coalition work includes service on the board of Gay Games VII in Chicago. Hunt is co-founder and managing partner of O-H Community Partners, Ltd. (OHcp), a management consulting firm that provides capacity building and technical assistance services to nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies. Prior to starting OHcp, Ms. Hunt was a senior planner with the Chicago Transit Authority where she designed and managed special projects, participated in public outreach initiatives, and obtained alternative sources of funding for nontraditional services. Hunt has Master's degrees in public policy and urban planning from the University of Chicago's Harris School for Public Policy Studies and the University of Illinois at Chicago, respectively. Hunt is a published author and has written research papers on women's issues in transportation, planning and policy, and environmental justice.
Naomi Lahiri, 24, describes herself as a queer, feminist diasporic desi. She is on the board of and helps run Trikone-Chicago, a queer South Asian non-profit in Chicago. Through Trikone, Naomi has helped start a support group for the family and friends of queer South Asians, as well as a support group for trans* people of Asian descent. Naomi is a licensed social worker. She works as a shelter advocate and case manager at Apna Ghar Inc., a domestic violence agency that was founded to address domestic violence in the South Asian community. Naomi is also on the programming committee of A Long Walk Home Inc., a non-profit that uses the arts to address violence against women and girls.
Alexis Martinez is a transgender activist working on cross-generation work, the Dyke March, Latino and multiple other issues. She was among the Trans 100 in 2013, a national list of activists. She describes herself as Evangelical Christian, Mexican, Apache and lesbian. She is an activist for living-wage employment, housing, education and quality healthcare.
Chris Mullins, 33, raised in Orland Park he has lived in the north side of Chicago for over a decade. Chris has been a gay rights advocate for years in Chicago and, for the past two years, has served as Chair for Lambda Legal's Chicago Leadership Council. Chris is passionate about marriage equality and particularly enjoys helping create events that are inclusive and fun, while simultaneously raising awareness and visibility for LGBT issues.
Edith Nieves is a longtime activist and entrepreneur who is also active with the Chicago Teachers Union as a middle school teacher. She has extensive connections with the sports community, as well as Latina and lesbian organizations.
Max Smith came out into activism in 1972 with Michigan State's Gay Liberation Council. A Chicago citizen since 1976, he has served since 1996 with Adodi: focused on bringing more progressive and liberal affirmation of same-gender-loving people within African American religious congregations.