"Protect Marriage Illinois" (PMI), an off-shoot of the Illinois "Family" Institute, a vicious anti-gay group that opposes equal employment, housing and access to public accommodations for LGBT people, has filed 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 promote a hate climate in Illinois.
It is insulting that the rights and life choices of any minority group be put up for a vote and made a political football.
If this measure gets on the ballot, even though it only would be advisory in nature, anti-gay forces would use the referendum campaign to whip up hatred, violence and discrimination against LGBT people. During the year following passage of the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado for example, the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Colorado reported a 129 percent 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.
We CAN win!
On the other hand, if we go to work NOW, we can score a big victory not only for LGBT people in Illinois, but everywhere. A defeat for anti-gay forces here in Illinois would be one of the first they've received in these referenda campaigns. More significantly, it would take place in the relatively conservative Midwest, a real body-blow to the religious fundamentalists.
How you can help
In order to get the advisory referendum on the ballot, anti-gay 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 submit over 500,000 signatures, but after months of campaigning in various "mega-churches," PMI has said it has filed 345,000 signatures, far short of what they were aiming for.
The Gay Liberation Network and others in the newly-formed FAIR Illinois Coalition need many many hours of YOUR volunteer work to inspect the signatures to make sure they are of registered voters and meet other legal criteria. No experience necessary.
GLN has volunteered to staff the main petition verifying office, 3342 N. Halsted, 3rd floor (above Lee's Nail Salon and across the street from Sidetrack) starting at 10 AM this Saturday. We also will be staffing it beginning at 6 PM next Tuesday, May 23rd.
If you can help out, please send an email to both LGBTliberation@aol.com AND email@example.com telling us your name, a phone number you can most easily be reached at, and the time(s) you will be there.
Other volunteer times are available, with some taking place during normal working hours at the Cook County Elections Office, 69 W. Washington, Fifth Floor, Chicago. To find out about other volunteer times, contact FAIR Illinois by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 773-477-7173.