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POLITICAL FOCUS: Mr. Rauner: You turned your back on us
A VIEWPOINT
by John Kohlhepp
2014-10-15

This article shared 4355 times since Wed Oct 15, 2014
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I was the campaign manager for Illinois Unites for Marriage from July through November 2013. When my friend, state Rep. Greg Harris, was on the Illinois House floor on May 31, 2013, announcing that the marriage equality bill did not have the votes to pass, I sat on the side of the chamber crying. This was a moment of profound crisis for the LGBTQ community. This moment called for people of courage and conscience to come together.

Six days later at your gubernatorial announcement, when asked about marriage equality, you said, "I guess we're done," turned your back and walked away from the podium. Marriage equality was debated for months in Illinois public policy circles, editorial boards, and the legislature. This was your chance to stand up for basic fairness and equality for the LGBTQ community and you didn't think we were important enough to warrant an answer to the question. You turned your back and walked away.

In contrast, Gov. Pat Quinn never gave up! He was disappointed, but he never stopped fighting for our families. Quinn called LGBTQ supporters the next week to express his support and publicly stated his continued support for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act.

Mr. Rauner: You turned your back on us.

In 100 days, Illinois Unites for Marriage supporters raised $1.5 million, sent more than 90,000 emails to legislators, placed more than 70,000 calls to legislators, signed over 25,000 postcards, attended meetings, found the courage to stand up for themselves and their families and asked others to support the marriage equality legislation. Business leaders stood up. Faith leaders stood up. Political leaders stood up. You turned your back and walked away.

Average people in cities and towns across Illinois knocked on doors; made phone calls; drove to Springfield for the largest LGBTQ rally in Springfield history; met with their legislators; and spent hours of their time working to ensure LGBTQ families equal legal recognition.

In contrast to the people of Illinois, Mr. Rauner, you said that your opinion didn't matter and was irrelevant during an interview with Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki. When it mattered, people across Illinois—men and women both gay and straight, city and rural—stood up for fairness. You chose silence. You actively chose to exclude the LGBTQ community.

Mr. Rauner: You turned your back on us.

While you remained silent, your campaign advanced hatred and bigotry by choosing an anti-equality, anti-choice candidate as your running mate. Evelyn Sanguinetti told the Quincy Journal that she "supports the traditional definition of marriage." You repeatedly stood with and welcomed the endorsements of leading figures against marriage equality.

In contrast with these actions, Gov. Quinn consistently publicly supported passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act. He lobbied legislators and worked consistently with the Illinois Unites for Marriage team to do, in his words, "whatever I can to pass this bill."

Mr. Rauner: You turned your back on us.

After a Herculean effort by the LGBTQ community and fair-minded people across Illinois, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act passed the House and the Senate. You said you would veto the bill. A veto would have doomed passage of the marriage equality in Illinois.

Republican and Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly voted in favor of marriage equality. Gathering those votes and encouraging those representatives and senators to have the courage of their convictions was an incredibly difficult task. Had you been governor, your veto threat would have doomed the legislation's passage.

In contrast, Gov. Quinn was on the floor during the bill's passage and worked tirelessly to ensure its success.

Mr. Rauner: You turned your back on us.

The people of Illinois fought for equality. We stood up for fairness. We did the right thing. The country watched, the country listened, the country followed and today a majority of Americans live in states where love is love.

You turned your back and walked away.

Mr. Rauner: The LGBTQ community remembers your actions. We have long memories and we will remember this November.

That is why I—like so many other marriage-equality supporters—support Gov. Quinn's re-election.

John Kohlhepp is the previous campaign manager for Illinois Unites for Marriage. He has worked on LGBTQ, immigration and labor issues, and is currently employed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.


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