As Illinois's legislative session comes to an end May 31 and passage of Illinois's equal marriage rights bill goes down to the wire, pro-gay groups are responding to the targeting by anti-gay groups of a legislator in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
The Illinois Family Institute, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, distributed a flyer a few weeks ago saying that it would demonstrate at the district office of Rep. Silvana Tavares, 2458 S. Millard Avenue, at 11 AM, Saturday, May 18. But on May 16 it distributed a flyer saying that their demonstration would be at nearby Shedd Park, 2221 S. Lawndale (between Lawndale and Millard on 23rd).
Pro-gay groups, led by the Association of Latino Men for Action
(ALMA), La Voz de los de Abajo, the Gay Liberation Network
, and The Civil Rights Agenda
, will hold a counter-protest beginning at 10:30 AM in front of Tavares's office, 2458 S. Millard, and then march to Shedd Park at about 11 AM.
"It's time for all Illinois leaders and lawmakers to insure that all residents of the State have the ability to marry the person they love regardless of their sexual orientation," said Julio Rodriguez, President of ALMA. "And it's especially important for the Latino community, where we know the recognition of family or relationships is critical to creating a culture of acceptance for Latino LGBT individuals and couples."
"It wasn't too many years ago that the Illinois Family Institute was a frequent ally of the notorious Jim Oberweis, perennial Republican candidate and creator of the infamous 'Soldier Field' anti-immigrant ads, which many rightly labeled as 'racist," said Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network
. "It is the height of chutzpah that an Oberweis and anti-immigrant Tea Party ally like the IFI thinks they can target a Latina legislator with their anti-gay filth and get away with it."
With the Memorial Day holiday falling in a bit over a week's time, this Saturday's dueling protests could be the last time the two sides face off before Illinois's House votes on the equal marriage rights bill.
And with the Supreme Court getting ready to issue decisions in two marriage rights cases sometime before the end of June, what happens in Illinois in this legislative session has taken on national significance. Activists supporting equal rights for gays hope that passage of an Illinois equal rights bill will give more momentum to the Court to more sweepingly strike down the anti-gay "Defense of Marriage Act" and California's Proposition 8.
For more information about Saturday's protests, email the Association for Latino Men in Action at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Gay Liberation Network
at LGBTliberation@aol.com.From a news releaseOn ChicagoPride.com: Marriage Countdown: Final weeks for Illinois gay marriage bill