Anti-Gay Hate Group To Announce Referendum Today
"Protect Marriage Illinois," an off-shoot of the Illinois "Family" Institute, a small but well-funded fringe group headquartered in the lily white suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, has said that tomorrow it will submit more than 300,000 signatures to put an anti-gay advisory referendum on the November ballot.
The referendum, while not having the force of law, calls upon the state legislature to enact a constitutional amendment to ban ALL legal unions of same-sex partners, including civil unions, domestic partners and marriage. Make no mistake, this is a bald attempt to roll back equal rights in Illinois.
In order to get the advisory referendum on the ballot, anti-gay forces will need to have 283,111 VALID signatures of properly registered Illinois voters. Most experts agree that in order to easily meet this criteria, they would need to collect over 500,000 signatures, but after months of refusing to say anything about how many signatures it has gathered, PMI is now vaguely claiming it has "well more than 300,000" signatures.
Are we not getting a firm number out of PMI because they don't know how to count, or is it because they're afraid they don't have enough valid signatures? A group which regularly lies about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people, thumbing its nose at the scientific opinions of all of the professional associations of psychiatrists and psychologists to peddle scapegoating quackery about LGBT people, shouldn't be trusted to tell the truth about its petition campaign.
The Gay Liberation Network, in conjunction with other LGBT and pro-gay organizations, will demand a vigorous inspection of PMI's petitions for phony and otherwise invalid signatures. Right wing groups in other close petition drives, such as a recent one in Massachusetts, have been known to fraudulently collect signatures by deliberately misrepresenting what people are being asked to sign, using multiple questions leading off with an innocuous question while claiming additional signatures were needed simply to "validate" the answer to the first question, and other underhanded means.
If the anti-gay measure gets on the ballot, even though it only would be ADVISORY in nature, election campaigns like this are designed to divide whip up hatred, violence and discrimination against LGBT people.
During the year following passage of the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado, the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Colorado reported a 129% increase in anti-LGBT violence compared with the previous year, a figure corroborated by the Denver Police Department. Even though Amendment 2 later was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, much damage already had been done to the local LGBT community, and our political organizing there was set back several years.
Because many Chicago area communities have had pro-LGBT legislation on the books for several years now, and Illinois as a whole got on board at the beginning of this year, many in our community have become complacent about the advancement of our rights. But just as rights can advance, they can also retreat. The history of the 20th Century, both in the U.S. and abroad, is replete with examples of devastating civil rights regress, as well as civil rights progress, and the latter has never come about without thorough-going grassroots organizing.
In order to defeat this latest hate gays campaign, we will need your help with pickets, protests and other such activities. This is how rights have been won in the past; this is how they can be preserved and expanded in the present. If you would like to take a more active role in defending our rights, please contact us by emailing LGBTliberation@aol.com.