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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Activists cry foul on Rauner "no social agenda" ad
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 6553 times since Fri Sep 12, 2014
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Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner released a new commercial Sept. 11 wherein he denies having a social agenda, but activists are pointing to past comments on same-sex marriage to rebut that claim.

The television ad is playing in the Chicago market, and was posted to YouTube by the conservative website Illinois Review. It features a woman identified in other Rauner ads as Marjorie Shapiro, "a pro-choice Democrat."

"Bruce doesn't have a social agenda. He's pro-choice and will leave the marriage equality law alone," Shapiro says in the ad.

The commercial comes as Rauner continues to take heat from LGBT activists who maintain that, had Rauner been Illinois' governor in 2013, the state's marriage equality law would not have been signed. Rauner has stated that he believed marriage equality should have been decided by voter referendum, not legislative or judicial action.

Bernard Cherkasov of Equality Illinois PAC, which has been publically highlighting Rauner's statements, said that Rauner's comments are not as benign as he would like voters to believe.

"The commercial is very disturbing, because it shows that Bruce Rauner is again trying to have it both ways," Cherkasov said. "What he has already said publically shows that he is leaving the door open for repealing marriage. It would leave marriage for its LGBT citizens 'on the table,' and he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth."

In a Nov. 2, 2013, talk at the HeatherRidge Golf Course in Gurnee, Rauner spoke about gay marriage, which would be voted on in the Illinois House just a few days later

"If I was governor, if they sent me that bill today, I would veto it," Rauner said at the talk, which was published last November on YouTube. "The voters haven't been given the opportunity to say what they think. … I haven't seen any ability for them to opine."

In a recording of a tea party gathering in Quincy a few days later—the same day the Illinois House approved the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act—Rauner was again asked about the bill.

"Today, they haven't approved it in a referendum so if I were governor I would veto," he said. "I believe that voters, on some new concept like that—that's a totally new concept—in a contractual relationship between two adults, voters should decide in a referendum. Politicians shouldn't be putting that on people if they don't want it, or blocking it if they do."

On June 2, just as the state's marriage equality law was taking effect, Rauner told Chicago Tribune that he had gay friends and wished them luck should they decide to marry, adding, "Now it's passed, it's the law, I don't have any agenda to change it and the only way I'd change it is if it were done in a referendum—[if] the voters said that they'd want to change it," Rauner said.

While a referendum on gay marriage has never been held in Illinois, gay marriage opponents did launch a petition in 2006 that would have authorized asking voters whether the state's constitution should ban gay marriage. They were unable to obtain the required number of signatures, however, and the referendum never came to pass.

Robert Bruhl, assistant professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that Rauner is now treading a path familiar to many political candidates—engaging the larger population of voters in a general election after having made comments that can be construed as more extreme during primary election season.

"In the primaries, candidates will have to appeal to discussions taking place between more [ideologically] polarized individuals," Bruhl said. "In the general election, they have to be more judicious because the larger population of voters is more moderate—this happens to both Republicans and Democrats."

But a new aspect of this longstanding political conundrum is that candidates now leave behind a digital paper trail that makes their previous statements accessible to anyone who knows their way around the Internet and social media.

"In the old days, most of the comments during the primaries escaped attention," Bruhl added. "In the digital age, when everyone has a smartphone, you can capture anything on video. If politicians aren't careful, they can get in a lot of trouble."

Social conservatives have meanwhile criticized Rauner for turning his back on their issues with the ad. According to Illinois Review, Illinois Family Action Executive Director David E. Smith said,"The life and marriage issues matter to social conservatives that make up the Illinois Republican Party base. It's like the ILGOP is purposely trying to put a cold, wet blanket on any social conservative enthusiasm leading up to November."

Cherkasov said that Rauner's comments nonetheless point to his lack of commitment to the rights of LGBT Illinoisans who would be his constituents should he be elected.

"The new commercial is only running in Chicago," he added. "If they would play it in Quincy, it might be a different story."

Rauner's campaign did not respond to Windy City Times' request for comment in time for publication.

Rauner's commercial can be viewed here: .

Illinois Review's article is at: .

Rauner's marriage comments come at the 45-minute mark at this YouTube video published by Round Lake Area News: .

Windy City Times' article on the Quincy talk is at: .

This article shared 6553 times since Fri Sep 12, 2014
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