Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Illinois Unites manager looks back on campaign
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 2392 times since Mon Nov 11, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Supporters of gay marriage in Illinois came several steps closer to the end of a long, winding road Nov. 5 when the General Assembly passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Marriage Fairness Act 61-54.

The vote culminated several years of work from many politicians, activists and other supporters, on SB10's behalf, as well as months of speculation as to when the vote would actually take place. The bill's chief sponsor, State Rep. Greg Harris, would not publicly say when to expect a vote.

But Harris privately told colleagues the evening of Nov. 4 that the vote would happen the following day, according to Illinois Unites for Marriage Campaign Director John Kohlhepp.

Harris had called together members of the steering committee for Illinois Unites for Marriage, as well as State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and State Rep. Sam Yingling. "We decided at that point to call the bill, and the next morning, Greg started to move on it," Kohlhepp said. "There are behind the scenes phone calls, and so forth, that go on."

As with many significant votes, rumors were rampant as supporters tried to conceive of the most rational strategy for the session. Tuesday morning, word circulated that the bill would be called in late afternoon. It turned out to be the first order of business Tuesday afternoon, when a vote was called on an amendment to SB10.

The amendment passed, signaling to supporters that the original bill likely would as well.

By that point, Kohlhepp said, "The debate was about how far over 60 we would be, not whether we were at 60. We knew that as soon as the Speaker engaged with the bill, with the governor and the mayor, and everybody else pulling in the same direction as everybody else, that we would get there."

House Speaker Michael Madigan sat alongside former Rep. ( and current Alderman ) Deb Mell for much of the debate. Near the end of the afternoon, he spoke on its behalf, citing Pope Francis' recent calls for tolerance.

Madigan was "incredibly engaged" through much of the campaign, Kohlhepp said. "The speaker was our ally." Rep. Thaddeus Jones and Rep. Michael D'Amico both told Chicago Sun-Times that they had met with Madigan about SB10, and each voted in favor of the bill. Madigan ultimately claimed that he was able to persuade about five to 10 members to vote for SB10; he was criticized by many supporters for doing too little during the push for a vote in the spring.

Kohlhepp had lobbied for SB10 in his work for District 31 of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers in the spring.

When Harris said in May that he would not be calling a vote, "I was broken-hearted like everybody else," Kohlhepp said. "There was a whole lot of emotion for me, as with everybody else, and I sat on the side of the chamber just crying. I couldn't believe that it hadn't passed, that it hadn't been called."

He thought that the campaign needed someone with a skill set like his, and he was hired to be Illinois Unites' campaign manager, taking a leave of absence from AFSCME.

"The consensus was we needed to run an outside game that engaged constituents of targeted legislators, as well as an inside game, which was lobbyists and all the internal political machine that exists here on both sides of the aisle," Kohlhepp said.

He spoke frequently in public on building targeting districts statewide from "Wisconsin to East St. Louis."

"Everyone really had the sense that that's what was needed," according to Kohlhepp. "Constituent contact, no matter what the issue, really drives a legislator's thinking, and the campaign was built to drive thousands of constituents—because that's what those legislators called for. They'd asked to go home to their districts and speak to their constituents."

"We chose our target list very carefully," he added. "So there really are no surprises."

The campaign had announced a fundraising goal of $2 million. Kohlhepp was unable to answer what the actual amount was. "We are still counting," he said, adding, "But we are very close to our goal. There wasn't anything we wanted to do that we couldn't do because of our finances."

Many politicians would have preferred to wait until January or March for a vote, so unopposed House representatives would not have to worry about a primary challenger should they vote in favor of SB10.

"The truth is, there always is a difficult political reality," Kohlhepp said. "It was now or never," Kohlhepp said. "We built the campaign based on Harris' floor speech [May 31, saying he would bring the bill up in the fall veto session], and we helped to fulfill that promise."

Momentum from events such as the Oct. 22 March on Springfield "created a sense of movement," Kohlhepp said. "It bought us at least two crucial votes." He would not reveal who the votes belonged to, but said one legislator was persuaded by the sight of supporters marching around the Capitol.

He said all thoughout the campaign that there was no "Plan B"—had the bill not been called in the fall veto session, Harris and the coalition would essentially have been back to the drawing board come 2014.

"But these people were incredible—they passed this bill," said Kohlhepp. "Everybody had a part to play, and in the end, they came through. That came along with some incredible leadership from Greg Harris. He kept his promise, and we should be thanking him for working tirelessly on this."

This article shared 2392 times since Mon Nov 11, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Liz Cheney: 'I was wrong' to oppose same-sex marriage 2021-09-27
- U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said—in a segment of the CBS show 60 Minutes that aired Sept. 26—she was "wrong" to oppose same-sex marriage when her objection to it caused a public split with her family, including ...

Gay News

Nearly two-thirds of Swiss residents vote for marriage equality 2021-09-26
- Almost two-thirds of Switzerland's voters backed the government's plan to introduce same-sex marriage in a referendum held Sept. 26, with campaigners calling it a historic day for gay rights in Switzerland, Yahoo! News reported, citing AFP. ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Danica Roem, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' abortion appeal, Lambda Legal 2021-09-26
- Transgender Virginia legislator Danica Roem is facing a conservative marriage-equality opponent and former Trump administration member in her re-election race this November, Yahoo! News noted. Roem, a Democrat, was elected to the House of Delegates in ...

Gay News

WORLD Marches, world leaders, Swiss marriage, soccer match 2021-09-26
- Thousands of people including soldiers and diplomats marched peacefully through the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in an annual Pride parade despite some opposition to an event called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters ...

Gay News

[UPDATE] Lisle school offers job to lacrosse coach in same-sex marriage 2021-09-21
- The administration at Lisle’s Benet Academy, a west suburban Catholic school, has reversed course and offered a job to a woman in a same-sex marriage after initially rescinding the offer, The Chicago Tribune reported. ...

Gay News

Pope again refuses to bless same-sex marriages 2021-09-18
- Pope Francis told reporters recently on a return flight from Hungary that the Catholic Church is unable to bless same-sex marriages because marriage is a divine sacrament between a man and a woman, per The Advocate. ...

Gay News

Polis marriage marks first same-sex wedding of sitting governor 2021-09-17
- On Sept. 15, Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis wed longtime partner Marlon Reis—marking the first same-sex marriage of a sitting U.S. governor, NPR reported. Polis keeps making history. In 2018, Polis became the first openly gay ...

Gay News

LGBTQ advocates celebrate two Illinois marriage certificate modernization bills 2021-07-27
--From a press release - Trans and non-binary people who were married in Illinois will now be able to obtain marriage certificates that reflect their authentic selves thanks to legislation signed today by Governor JB Pritzker, according to Equality Illinois and ...

Gay News

WORLD Marriage in Chile, Polish website, Toronto news, 'Reclaim Pride' march 2021-07-25
- On July 21, Chile's Senate approved an equal-marriage bill, reported. The regulations were presented during the second government of the socialist Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018) and last June 1, during ...

Gay News

LGBTQ advocates celebrate passage of Illinois marriage certificate name change legislation 2021-05-28
--From a press release - LGBTQ advocates are celebrating passage of state legislation that will provide certainty for individuals requesting that their Illinois marriage certificates reflect a legal name change. HB 2590 is an initiative of Equality Illinois and Chicago House ...

Gay News

LGBT-inclusive marriage-certificate act passes state General Assembly 2021-05-21
--From a press release - May 21. 2021 - In an effort to modernize marriage certificates in Illinois, state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and state Rep. Ann Williams helped pass The Marriage Certificate Modernization Act through the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation ...

Gay News

Starting May 3, ceremonies in Cook County's downtown Marriage Court can be performed by Zoom 2021-04-30
- CHICAGO (April 30) — Marriage and civil union ceremonies at Cook County's downtown Marriage and Civil Union Court (Marriage Court) may be performed via Zoom videoconference, as well as in person, starting next week, according to ...

Gay News

Illinois Senate passes proposal removing gendered language from marriage certificates 2021-04-21
--From a press release - On April 21, on its third reading, the Illinois Senate passed (by a bipartisan vote of 44-13) a proposal that amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to allow the removal of gendered language ...

Gay News

Russian leader Putin officially bans same-sex marriage 2021-04-08
- On April 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a series of constitutional amendments that, among other things, formally defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country, The Washington Blade reported. ...

Gay News

Global momentum for marriage equality surges,"Freedom to Marry Global" website created 2021-03-31
--From a press release - April 1st marks twenty years since the Netherlands ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, becoming the first of so far 30 countries worldwide to affirm the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Now, two ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.