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  WINDY CITY TIMES

ILLINOIS: Anti-Gay Referendum Rejected
by Andrew Davis
2006-08-16

This article shared 4669 times since Wed Aug 16, 2006
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The Illinois State Board of Elections has halted the drive by conservative group Protect Marriage Illinois ( PMI ) to put an anti-gay marriage referendum on the state's Nov. 7 ballot by announcing on Aug. 11 that it will not certify the measure.

Referendum supporters submitted more than 330,000 signatures. However, a sample of them did not satisfy the state's requirement of 95 percent; only 91 percent were considered valid. Advocates have decided to pursue a federal appeal to have the state's requirements deemed unconstitutional.

Jim Snyder, president of Fair Illinois ( a group organized in response to PMI's push that checked the validity of the signatures ) , commented to Windy City Times that PMI did not present any evidence to the hearing officer that it had the requisite number of valid signatures. ( He added that the board still has to certify the entire ballot, which will occur before Sept. 1. ) He also said that what transpired said something about anti- and pro-GLBT supporters: 'I think it's a demonstration of the fact that they could not find enough support for the anti-gay initiative—and it says a lot about our community. When we work in unity, we can move mountains. I also think it's a very good example for us [ to realize ] that when your community's attacked, you don't just stay home and hope for good luck; you have to fight for every inch. They won't gain any ground unless they take it from us.'

Rick Garcia, political director of gay-rights group Equality Illinois, told Windy City Times that he does not feel that PMI's efforts to appeal will succeed and called the board's ruling 'a huge victory for our community and it really demonstrates what we've always said: these anti-gay folks do not have the support in Illinois that they thought they had or that they wished they had.' In addition, he said that the anti-gay organizations 'have lost every step of the way. They fought the human-rights bill and lost; they fought the extension of domestic-partner benefits for [ the state's ] employees and lost; and they promoted Alan Keyes and Jim Oberweis, and they lost. This isn't 1-2-3; this is 7-8-9 strikes, and they're way out.' However, he added that conservatives 'will be back, so we have to continue to do what we do. We can't stop until we're treated fairly and equitably.'

Lambda Legal, which represented Fair Illinois, released a statement in which staff attorney James P. Madigan asserted, 'We are pleased that the Board of Elections followed the evidence where it led and voted to keep this divisive measure off the ballot. The Board refused to let [ PMI ] play by special rules and applied the same law to them that applies to everyone else.'

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is being challenged for his seat on the November ballot, 'is happy that the numbers are not what the [ referendum ] supporters said they had. He is against amending the [ Illinois ]

constitution,' a gubernatorial spokeswoman told Windy City Times. His Republican challenger, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, also is against amending the constitution, 365Gay.com reported. Topinka did not return Windy City Times' calls requesting comment prior to deadline.

A 1996 Illinois law already bars same-sex marriage.


This article shared 4669 times since Wed Aug 16, 2006
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