WBEZ | Equality Illinois http://www.wbez.org/tags/equality-illinois Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois gay marriage becomes law as it prompts hope, concern http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-gay-marriage-becomes-law-it-prompts-hope-concern-109201 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/gay marriage passes - AP Seth Perlman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage when Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed a long-awaited&mdash;and hotly debated&mdash;bill into law on Wednesday.</p><p>The bill passed the General Assembly on Nov. 5, after months of lobbying by gay rights activists and opponents of the measure.</p><p>The new reality of gay marriage is prompting both hope and concern for the future among Illinoisans.</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;It&rsquo;s right to love each other&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p>When Bill Kelley first moved here from Missouri as a teenager in 1959, Illinois was a very different place for gay men such as him. Gay sex then was illegal, though Illinois three years later would become the first state to repeal its sodomy laws.</p><p>Kelley says the Sexual Revolution and the civil rights movement of that era also let gays and lesbians feel freer. He went on to become an established gay rights activist in the years that followed.</p><p>But looking back, the 71-year-old says those changes took root over decades. So Kelley is not expecting any additional major cultural shifts as gay marriage becomes Illinois law.</p><p>&quot;The change in law seldom marks any abrupt change in society,&rdquo; Kelley said. &ldquo;Usually changes in laws follow changes in society as much as they provoke them.&quot;</p><p>Chen Ooi, Kelley&rsquo;s partner of 34 years, was more emotional in describing his reaction to the breakthrough on gay marriage. The 61-year-old choked back tears when he recalled how he felt when he learned the bill was approved by the legislature earlier this month, after many fits and starts.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s [a] civil right,&rdquo; Ooi said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s right to love each other. And yet, it took so long to fight for it.&rdquo;</p><p>Kelley and Ooi don&rsquo;t have a civil union under the law, enacted in 2011, that guaranteed same-sex couples some partnership rights short of marriage. And they say they aren&rsquo;t sure about getting married even though it will now be legal for them to do so.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because they&rsquo;ve organized their entire lives&mdash;finances, estates, health care decisions&mdash;all based on the idea that marriage was impossible, Ooi said.</p><p>Whatever they decide, Kelley says legalizing gay marriage is an important step in changing how people will think about same-sex couples.</p><p>Kelley compared the change to the stance many people took on the federal &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell&rdquo; &nbsp;policy that, from 1993 to 2011, allowed gays to serve in the military but required them to remain closeted. This was replaced by the current law that allows gay people to serve in the military openly.</p><p>&quot;People who didn&rsquo;t want to join the Army were in favor of repealing &lsquo;Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell,&rsquo;&rdquo; Kelley said. &ldquo;So it has an impact broader than just the impact that it has on couples like us.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;Freedom of religion is gone&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p>That broader impact is exactly what worries some who oppose the legalizaton of gay marriage.</p><p>&quot;Freedom of speech is gone, freedom of religion is gone. And truly, that is what is being eroded,&quot; said Pastor Pat McManus, who heads the non-denominational Kingdom Impact Center in suburban Aurora.</p><p>McManus is in the process of changing his church&rsquo;s bylaws to make it clear he will not perform gay marriages. He says he does not trust the provision in Illinois&rsquo; same-sex marriage measure that already says churches can&rsquo;t be forced to marry gay couples.</p><p>&ldquo;[I] don&rsquo;t believe what they say. ... I believe that&rsquo;ll change down the road. Because once everything begins to start, it&rsquo;s gonna begin to erode all the way down,&rdquo; McManus said.</p><p>McManus says laws have been changing so quickly that he worries one day he will not be allowed to preach his belief that homosexuality is a sin.</p><p>Despite the bill&rsquo;s language, McManus says he&rsquo;s talked to a few other pastors who are also changing their bylaws, just in case they ever get sued for refusing to officiate a gay wedding.</p><p>It&rsquo;s difficult to know exactly how many Illinois churches are taking that step.</p><p>But attorney Rich Baker, who works at a socially conservative Chicago law firm, says he has helped a handful make similar changes, because the bill&rsquo;s religious protections are not strong enough.</p><p>&quot;I think the effect of that really is to say that we will give you freedom of worship within your four walls, but the Gospel outside of the four walls is not welcome,&quot; Baker said.</p><p>Baker points out that the bill&rsquo;s religious protection <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09800SB0010sam002&amp;GA=98&amp;SessionId=85&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=68375&amp;DocNum=10&amp;GAID=12&amp;Session=">clause does not apply</a> to &ldquo;businesses, health care facilities, educational facilities, or social service agencies,&rdquo; and thus could leave them open to lawsuits.</p><p>He points to a recent <a href="http://www.nmcompcomm.us/nmcases/nmsc/slips/SC33,687.pdf">case in New Mexico</a>, where the state Supreme Court ruled against a photographer who refused to take pictures of a same-sex wedding, based on her Christian faith.</p><p>In April, Bob Ferguson, the Democratic attorney general in the state of Washington, <a href="http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&amp;id=31148#.UozZJsSkrPE">sued a florist</a> who refused to sell flowers for a gay couple&rsquo;s wedding.</p><p>Baker contended that gay rights activists in Illinois have been moving the goalposts since civil unions became legal.</p><p>&quot;We were told at that time, that&rsquo;s all that was wanted, that&rsquo;s all that was needed. That was only two years ago,&rdquo; Baker said. &ldquo;And now we&rsquo;re told that, you know, it must be marriage. What will it be next?&quot;</p><p>Exactly what&rsquo;s next in the parallel fights for religious rights and gay rights could become clearer after June 1, when Illinois counties can begin issuing their first marriage licenses to gay couples.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-gay-marriage-becomes-law-it-prompts-hope-concern-109201 Advocates work all angles to woo GOP on gay marriage http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-work-all-angles-woo-gop-gay-marriage-108750 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Equality illinois fundraiser - Alex Keefe WBEZ.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As Illinois&rsquo; gay marriage advocates race to shore up support before next month&rsquo;s legislative session, they&rsquo;ve began courting votes from an unlikely quarter: Illinois House Republicans.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear exactly how many in the GOP may buck their party&rsquo;s platform and vote for same sex marriage if the bill is called for a vote when lawmakers return to Springfield at the end of October.</p><p>Leading advocates say privately it could be just a handful of representatives, and they&rsquo;re focusing on those they think could be persuaded, or who are retiring.</p><p>But that uncertainty hasn&rsquo;t stopped a coalition of pro-gay marriage groups from launching a concerted effort aimed at winning over Republicans. The groups are carpet bombing some GOP districts with constituent phone banks, and they&rsquo;re hoping big-name donors, business leaders and prominent Republicans will also lean on lawmakers behind the scenes.</p><p><a href="http://www.illinoisunites.org/">Illinois Unites for Marriage</a>, which comprises more than 60 groups, is targeting House lawmakers in 40 districts, 16 of them held by Republicans.</p><p>Advocates are also offering help with fundraising, to demonstrate that Republicans who vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; on gay marriage could get some campaign cash to protect them if their position leads to a challenge in next year&rsquo;s primary.</p><p><strong>&lsquo;You gotta have money&rsquo;</strong></p><p>The political odd-couple relationship was on full display at an after-work fundraiser on a rainy night last week at P.J. Clarke&rsquo;s, a bar in Chicago&rsquo;s Gold Coast neighborhood.</p><p><a href="http://www.eqil.org/">Equality Illinois</a>, a Chicago-based gay rights group, invited their would-be donors to sip beer and hobnob with the three Republicans in the General Assembly who are publicly bucking their party&rsquo;s platform and supporting same-sex marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;If I do have a primary, which I think is going to happen, you gotta have money to get your message out,&rdquo; said State Rep. Ron Sandack, from Downers Grove. &ldquo;This does that. This helps in that endeavor. There&rsquo;s just no doubt about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Also there was Illinois State Sen. Jason Barickman, from downstate Bloomington, who cast the lone Republican &ldquo;yes&rdquo; vote for gay marriage when it passed the Senate this year on Valentine&rsquo;s Day. The Illinois House adjourned in May without calling the measure for a vote, but Sandack and fellow GOP State Rep Ed Sullivan, Jr., of Mundelein, have pledged their support if it does.</p><p>Equality Illinois is hoping to raise enough money to give at least $5,000 to each candidate, said Jeremy Gottschalk, who heads up Equality Illinois&rsquo; political fundraising arm. The political action committee has already donated that much to <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/A1List.aspx?ID=23792&amp;FiledDocID=503467&amp;ContributionType=AllTypes&amp;Archived=True">Sandack</a> and <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/A1List.aspx?ID=16334&amp;FiledDocID=503031&amp;ContributionType=AllTypes&amp;Archived=True">Sullivan</a>, and they&rsquo;ve also received money from big-name pro-gay marriage donors such as Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, and billionaire Paul Singer, who was integral in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/nyregion/the-road-to-gay-marriage-in-new-york.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">bankrolling</a> a gay marriage bill in New York.</p><p>At last week&rsquo;s fundraiser, all three lawmakers made arguments to the crowd that seemed more geared toward their Republican colleagues.</p><p>&ldquo;If you believe in the conservative philosophy of pro-family, of freedoms, this is the vote. This is the day,&rdquo; Sullivan told the group of potential donors. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s unfortunate we don&rsquo;t have more with us. We will. We&rsquo;re working on it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Building pressure from constituents, big names</strong></p><p>But advocates are also hoping to build pressure from the grassroots level.</p><p>One night last week, about 10 volunteers with Illinois Unites for Marriage gathered over pizza and soda to make phone calls from the community room of a church in west suburban Clarendon Hills.</p><p>The target on this night was GOP State Rep. Sandi Pihos, and the goal was to get constituents to flood her voicemail box with messages supporting gay marriage.</p><p>Martin McAlpin, one of 20 organizers stationed around the state, acknowledges it can be an uphill climb to build support for gay marriage in this traditionally Republican enclave of the western suburbs.</p><p>&ldquo;Wheaton and Glen Ellyn are conservative strongholds, but this is not gonna pass without Republican votes,&rdquo; McAlpin said.</p><p>Pihos later told WBEZ she&rsquo;s still a solid &ldquo;no&rdquo; vote on gay marriage, citing &ldquo;overwhelming&rdquo; opposition to the bill in her district, despite the phone banking. McAlpin has also been targeting Republican State Rep. Patricia Bellock, of Westmont, who did not return phone calls from WBEZ.</p><p>Organizers declined to say exactly which other Republicans they hope to win over.</p><p>But advocates have also recruited prominent business leaders and donors in hopes of pressuring lawmakers behind the scenes. They&rsquo;ve released <a href="http://www.eqil.org/cmsdocuments/Business_Case_for_Marriage_EQIL.pdf">pamphlets</a> arguing gay marriage could boost the wedding industry and attract new talent to the state, and they cast their cause in the frame of limited government.</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union even recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-hires-former-il-gop-head-pat-brady-lobby-gay-marriage-108537">hired</a> the former head of the state GOP, Pat Brady, to win Republican votes.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Timing is everything</strong></h2><p>But Brady and other lobbyists for same-sex marriage acknowledge there&rsquo;s one big potential obstacle to winning over Republicans by next month&rsquo;s veto session: Illinois&rsquo; political calendar.</p><p>GOP lawmakers won&rsquo;t officially know whether they&rsquo;ll face a primary challenge until ballot petitions are filed Nov. 25, more than two weeks after the legislative session is over.</p><p>&ldquo;And that&rsquo;s a real concern, the fact that these folks who are leaning toward voting for it because they believe it&rsquo;s the right thing to do might catch a primary,&rdquo; Brady said. &ldquo;So the timing of the veto session ... could be problematic.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, supporters of same-sex marriage aren&rsquo;t the only ones gearing up for a fight.</p><p>Chris Plante is with the National Organization for Marriage, which has been doing its own lobbying against the gay marriage bill in preparation for next month&rsquo;s veto session.</p><p>Plante&rsquo;s group is vowing to help defeat lawmakers who vote in favor of same-sex marriage - especially Republicans.</p><p>&ldquo;[Voters] will not stand for candidates, or for representatives who betray their constituency, who do not vote their values,&rdquo; Plante said. &ldquo;And so the consequence will be that they will lose their seat.&rdquo;</p><p>Plante wouldn&rsquo;t say how much money his group planned to drop in Illinois, acknowledging they&rsquo;ll likely be outspent by proponents of same sex marriage. But he said he is coordinating with the conservative <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/">Illinois Family Institute</a>, and the <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/">African American Clergy Coalition</a>, both of which have been trying to appeal to religious lawmakers and some black Democrats.</p><p>Meanwhile, Republicans who have already come out supporting gay marriage, like Rep. Sandack, say the opposition doesn&rsquo;t worry them.</p><p>&ldquo;I have no fear about that,&rdquo; Sandack said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t cause me any pause. That&rsquo;s part of the process. I signed up for it. If that&rsquo;s what they wanna do, Godspeed.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 11:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-work-all-angles-woo-gop-gay-marriage-108750 Gay advocacy group wants Chicago to suspend sister city program with Moscow http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-advocacy-group-wants-chicago-suspend-sister-city-program-moscow-108236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Moscow Sister City_130731.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois wants Chicago to suspend its sister city program with the Russian capital of Moscow.</p><p>The <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/sister-cities/moscow/">program</a> organizes local events, such as the Russia Day celebrations and the Russian-American Business Forum, to help strengthen cultural and commercial ties between the two cities.</p><p>Russia recently passed a law that bans people from holding gay pride rallies and informing minors about the LGBT community.</p><p>Equality Illinois also calls for Illinoisans to cancel business dealings with or travel plans to the eastern European country.</p><p>Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov says some local businesses have already stopped selling Russian products.</p><p>&ldquo;We live in a city that is very conscious of treating everyone with equal dignity and respect, and by us partnering with Moscow, a city that&rsquo;s... the opposite of where Chicago stands, I think we&rsquo;re going to send a strong message by saying that enough is enough.&rdquo; Cherkasov said.</p><p>Chicago Sister Cities International says they must continue the program so LGBT Russians might still feel welcome here. A statement from the organization also noted that it&rsquo;s important to keep the lines of communication open.</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/jclee89">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 17:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-advocacy-group-wants-chicago-suspend-sister-city-program-moscow-108236 Gay rights groups bristle at being excluded from immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some Illinois gay rights advocates say they feel betrayed by their Democratic allies because same-sex couples aren&rsquo;t legally recognized in an immigration overhaul bill that&rsquo;s headed to the floor of the U.S. Senate next month.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/immigration/amendments/Leahy/Leahy7-%28MDM13374%29.pdf" target="_blank">provision</a> to recognize so-called bi-national same-sex couples was dropped from the bill at the last minute on Tuesday, just before it was approved, 13 to 5, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.</p><p>Some Senate Republicans had warned the amendment would sink the larger immigration bill. That apparently prompted some Democrats who traditionally back gay rights issues, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, to urge his colleagues to leave the language relating to gay couples out of the bill.</p><p>&quot;I believe in my heart of hearts that what you&#39;re doing is the right and just thing,&quot; Durbin said at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing. &quot;But I believe this is the wrong moment, that this is the wrong bill.&quot;</p><p>Recognition of a same-sex relationship in federal immigration law would mean that marriage or civil unions could be grounds to grant legal status to an immigrant spouse, or to prevent their deportation. Federal law currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, although the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the issue.</p><p>Its exclusion from the Senate bill, after months of lobbying lawmakers, prompted a backlash from Illinois gay rights advocates.</p><p>&ldquo;My initial reaction is anger. Anger that, again, we get scapegoated,&rdquo; said Julio Rodriguez, chair of the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not only a tragedy, but I think it&rsquo;s a sad statement on the part of our allies, and the relationships that I think we believed that we had,&rdquo; Rodriguez said.</p><p>Despite the setback, activists will continue to lobby lawmakers to include recognition for gay couples in a later amendment to the bill in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state&rsquo;s largest gay rights advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the right bill and this is the right time,&rdquo; Cherkasov said Wednesday. &ldquo;You know, this is a comprehensive immigration reform. This could be the only chance we have in a decade, if not in a generation, to fix all the problems of our broken immigration system.&rdquo;</p><p>The pressure from gay rights groups puts Illinois&rsquo; two senators in a difficult political position. Durbin is a liberal Democrat who has traditionally enjoyed support from the gay rights community, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recently bucked his own party to announce his support for same-sex marriage.</p><p>But Durbin didn&rsquo;t immediately respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s interview request Wednesday. And Kirk&rsquo;s office declined to comment on whether he supports recognition of same-sex couples, saying that he&rsquo;s still reviewing the bill.</p><p>The news comes as a blow to the estimated 267,000 gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, according to one <a href="http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/us-lgbt-immigrants-mar-2013/" target="_blank">recent study</a>.</p><p>The lack of legal recognition puts that group in limbo, said Phillip Knoll, a 31-year-old Chicagoan who has been dating his boyfriend, who came to the United States from Singapore on a student visa, for the last five years. The legal uncertainty makes it hard to plan for their future together, Knoll said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s weird to have to consider whether or not you&rsquo;re able to make the sort of decision that&rsquo;s really personal, and that something political has to happen first,&rdquo; Knoll said. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s an odd way to think of yourself.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Knoll said he and his partner remain optimistic that they&rsquo;ll stay together geographically. But down the road, Knoll said his boyfriend&rsquo;s immigration status could affect their decision to marry &ndash; or even to leave the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;And it would feel like getting pushed out, right?&rdquo; Knoll said.&rdquo; I think it would feel like we were not welcome in the country [where] I was born, and in a country that he&rsquo;s been welcome as a student. Why can&rsquo;t he stay and contribute?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 Five days after passing transgender anti-discrimination rule, school board may rescind it http://www.wbez.org/news/five-days-after-passing-transgender-anti-discrimination-rule-school-board-may-rescind-it-103277 <p><p>The suburban East Aurora school board will meet Friday to vote on whether to drop a <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33042109">new transgender policy.</a></p><p>The policy, passed unanimously Monday, said transgender students can self-identify at school.</p><p>The new rule grants them the right to participate in sports, gym classes and use restrooms without harassment. It specifies that transgender and gender non-conforming students have <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33024785">a right to privacy</a> about their identities, and calls on the school to reduce gender-segregated activities that would require such disclosure.</p><p>That got the attention of Laurie Higgins, a writer for the Illinois Family Institute, which directed hundreds of people to email the district this week to complain about the new policy.</p><p>Even though she hasn&rsquo;t read the policy, she still thinks it goes too far.&nbsp; &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going by the news reports,&rdquo; she said when asked about the new rule.</p><p>&ldquo;We have made this such an elastic and expansive definition of bullying as to render it meaningless,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>State law requires school districts to pass their own anti-bullying policies.</p><p>One chief of an Illinois LGBT advocacy group thinks the issue has been blown out of proportion.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s only been made controversial because organizations like the so-called Illinois Family Institute are really trying to apply pressure on the school board to rescind that policy,&rdquo; said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;Ironically, the tactics that they&rsquo;re using to get the school board to rescind its anti-bullying policy are very bullying-like tactics themselves,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Members of Equality Illinois plan to attend the 5:30 school board meeting on Friday evening to show their support for keeping the policy in place.</p><p>The East Aurora school district could not be reached for comment.</p><p><em>Update: The&nbsp;</em><em>School Board of&nbsp;</em><em>East Aurora voted unanimously to repeal the anti-bullying policy on Friday, Oct. 19. The board plans to discuss the issue again at its Nov. 5 meeting.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Oct 2012 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/five-days-after-passing-transgender-anti-discrimination-rule-school-board-may-rescind-it-103277 Gay marriage advocates lobby Illinois Republicans, while Party rejects same-sex marriage http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/gay-marriage-advocates-lobby-illinois-republicans-while-party-rejects-same-sex <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/7881025162_f46108f40f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gay marriage advocates are lobbying Illinois Republicans at the party&rsquo;s national convention.&nbsp;But it&rsquo;s not clear how their message is being received.</p><p>A group called Equality Illinois, an organization that lobbies for gay marriage in the state,&nbsp;sponsored the drinks at Tuesday&#39;s state GOP lunch.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;There&rsquo;s a lot of Republicans still on the fence,&quot; said Randy Hannig, a spokesman for Equality Illinois. &quot;They&rsquo;re not too sure on how they would vote on say, for example, the marriage bill. So this is an opportunity for us to kind of talk to them, answer their questions, kind of assuage any fears they have.&quot;</p><p>Hannig said his group will sponsor a similar event at next week&rsquo;s Democratic Convention. But despite their presence, yesterday&rsquo;s lunch was sparsely attended.&nbsp;Most delegates were leaving for the Republican Convention at that time.</p><p>And some who were there, like delegate Bill Anderson, gave the group&rsquo;s message a cool reception.</p><p>&quot;I think there&rsquo;s far, uh, there are many other issues that are far more important,&quot; he said.</p><p>Later in the day, the national Republican Party passed a platform that explicitly rejects gay marriage.</p></p> Wed, 29 Aug 2012 08:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/gay-marriage-advocates-lobby-illinois-republicans-while-party-rejects-same-sex Same sex couples protest tax status http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-18/same-sex-couples-protest-tax-status-85323 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-18/DOMA Getty Monika Graff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In some states many same-sex couples are using their returns to point out the effect that DOMA - The Defense of Marriage Act - has on their tax status. DOMA defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. So same sex married couples cannot file federal joint tax returns.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.equalityillinois.org/bernard.html" target="_blank">Bernard Cherkasov</a> is CEO of Equality Illinois and he explained what same sex couples face during tax time.</p></p> Mon, 18 Apr 2011 13:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-18/same-sex-couples-protest-tax-status-85323