BY AMY WOOTEN
Conservative group Protect Marriage Illinois ( PMI ) fell short of the required valid signatures needed to place an anti-gay marriage referendum on the November ballot.
The right-wing group, which is led by Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera, collected 345,000 signatures in order to place an anti-gay marriage referendum on the November ballot. A random sample taken by the Illinois State Board of Elections of roughly 19 percent of the signatures showed that only 91 percent were valid. Under state law, 95 percent of the signatures must be valid in order to get the green light to place the non-binding referendum on the ballot. Although the election board's review showed that the anti-gay group is failing in its attempt to advise state legislators to ban all gay unions, that does not mean the issue is dead in the water.
According to Board of Elections spokesperson Dan White, proponents of the referendum will have the next few weeks to attempt to restore signatures deemed invalid and challenge the state's findings. PMI will be able to state its case during an Aug. 11 meeting, and the board will reach a decision.
White said that it could come to a point where all submitted signatures will need to be verified by the Board of Elections. 'We are really hoping it won't come to that,' he said.
A group of opponents to the referendum has filed an objection to the signatures not included in the random sample, but the board has put a hold on its complaints. 'At some point, that may have to be addressed,' White added.
Illinois law already defines marriage as between one man and one woman.