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Lambda Legal Launches Chicago Mass Transit Campaign in Celebration of Marriage Equality: PHOTOS

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Last week, Lambda Legal unveiled it’s first ever transit ad campaign - a series of marriage victory ads that will run on Chicago’s Red line until April 15.

Chicago Pride reports:

"This is a celebration campaign," said Jim Bennett, Regional Director for the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal. "We're very happy to have our plaintiff couples as the faces of a campaign on the CTA Red line, a great place to be seen by our community. The people who text to get the Love Unites US bag will also be sent our marriage FAQ and as always we are here to help if the need arises. Lambda Legal has been fighting for equality for a long time, and we want to share the excitement. We all did this together - these ads are full of joy."

The campaign bears the slogan,"You make your life, we make it legal." The ads also feature Lambda Legal marriage plaintiffs Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins from Chicago and Timothy Rice and Don Julian of Alto Pass, Illinois as well as the organization's Board co-chair, Karen Dixon and her spouse Nan Schaffer formerly of Chicago.

Check out the campaign’s images, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "Lambda Legal Launches Chicago Mass Transit Campaign in Celebration of Marriage Equality: PHOTOS" »


IL Congressional Candidate Who Said Autism is God's Punishment for Gay Marriage Wins Primary

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Towleroad readers may remember Susanna Atanus, a Republican congressional candidate from the Chicago area who made headlines in January for an interview she gave in which she offered a nutty perspective on gay rights and abortion:

"I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first," Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized abortions.

"God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she said. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."

Atanus WON her primary, the Niles Herald-Spectator reports:

According to unofficial totals, Atanus received 15,238 votes to Williams’ 13,864 votes...

Republican leaders urged Atanus to leave the race, but she declined.

Her opponent, Williams, also met with controversy during the race when a Washington D.C. judge ruled Williams had stalked an ex-girlfriend and issued a domestic violence civil protection order against him, the website Evanston Now reported. Williams denied the allegations.

Atanus will face incumbent Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in November's primary.


'Chicago Sun-Times' Offers Front Page Profile on Rahm Emanuel's Gay Adviser David Spielfogel

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Thursday's Chicago Sun-Times offered a laudatory front page profile of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's top adviser David Spielfogel:

Spielfogel is not only the mayor’s intellectual match — without the ego to go with it — he’s the brains and execution behind virtually every one of the mayor’s policy initiatives, from ethics reform and ride-sharing to petcoke and the drive to raise $50 million over five years for jobs, mentoring and recreation programs for at-risk kids.

Emanuel rarely makes a move without consulting him.

“Since David joined my campaign in its first few weeks, he’s helped me to shape city hall’s agenda on every major priority. Our first discussion in 2010 was about a range of ways to break from the past and move this city forward . . . Whether on the campaign, or running my transition team, or now in city hall, I have come to value David’s opinions, insight, advice and focus,” Emanuel said via e-mail.

Spielfogel’s father, Keith, said about his son: “If I call, he doesn’t answer. If the mayor calls, he answers.”

Spielfogel also happens to be gay and Emanuel performed his civil union in 2011 at City Hall:

David Spielfogel is the most influential of a large number of openly gay employees in the Emanuel administration.

He had a girlfriend all through college “who I loved,” and he came out after graduation, because, “I’m not sure I knew” before then.

Although his own family was “very accepting,” Spielfogel said the fact that he’s gay gives him a unique and important perspective when it comes to making policy.

“It makes me more sensitive to the feeling among different groups that they’re not included in progress or don’t feel like they have a stake in decisions,” he said.

“Whether you’re gay, whether you’re a woman, whether you’re part of a minority group, there are times when you feel like your voice doesn’t want to be heard solely because of something that’s biological for you. There’s an extra sensitivity there.”


Chicago’s Loyola University Bans Gay Wedding Ceremonies As Marriage Equality Begins in Illinois

As Illinois’ marriage equality law begins to take effect this year, Loyola University in Chicago has adopted an official policy that bans same-sex couples from marrying on campus grounds. DNAinfo Chicago reports:

LoyolaThe policy, enacted in December, allows only Catholic-sanctioned weddings — between a man and a woman — at the school's iconic Madonna della Strada Chapel in Rogers Park [pictured right]. All other ceremonies would be forbidden campuswide, university officials said.

The move undermined the hope of students and alumni who wanted the university to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on campus grounds after the state Legislature passed the same-sex marriage law last year.

The state's first same-sex couples were officially married Friday.

"I was extremely disappointed because that policy is not reflective of the Loyola that I know," said Michael Jarecki, 35, who's gay and graduated from Loyola in 2001. "To me, this seems like two steps backwards."

Windy City Times notes that Loyola's religious affiliation and mission affords the university exemptions granted under the equal-marriage law, which states that religious organizations are not required to provide their facilities for wedding ceremonies and receptions. 

However, the law's definition of "religious facilities" states that educational facilities are not exempt and with the school's standing as both a religious organization and an educational institution, there could be room for interpretation based on how the law is worded. A way around this would be for the school to argue that the wedding and reception venues offered by the university aren't necessarily used for educational purposes. 


First Marriages Take Place in Chicago, Cook County

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The first same-sex couples was married in Cook County, Illinois yesterday, just hours after a federal judge ruled that gay couples could start marrying immediately. 

WLS-TV explains how the very first gay couple to marry made their decision:

Charlie Gurion, 25, saw that U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled Friday morning that there was no reason for same-sex couples to wait for marriage until June, which is when an Illinois law goes into effect making gay marriage legal. So he called his partner, David Wilk, 30, at work, and talked him into heading the courthouse. The two have been together for three and half years.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman's ruling was announced late Friday morning, drawing 46 gay couples to the lower level of the Daley Center to get a marriage license. Thanks to a waiver from a judge, Cook County Clerk David Orr even married a couple Friday, giving them red roses to celebrate.

Orr said the office looks forward to long lines but he was not sure how many to expect. Extra staff will be brought in to cover the longer hours today.

Marriage licenses take effect the next calender day and are valid for 60 days.  “Don’t rush to get your license if you have a summer wedding planned because you don’t want the license to expire before your big day,” Orr cautioned.

The $60 license fee will be waived for any couple who already has an Illinois civil union license. Couples who wish to convert their prior civil union date to a marriage will have to wait until June 1 because it was not addressed in Coleman’s order, Orr said.

Only the downtown Chicago office issued same-sex marriage licenses yesterday. According to the Tribune, "all offices will begin issuing licenses on Monday."


Gay Couples Can Marry Right Now in Chicago, Cook County

IllinoisA federal judge in Chicago ruled on Friday that gay couples do not have to wait until June to marry in Cook County, the Chicago Tribune reports:

"There is no reason to delay further when no opposition has been presented to this Court and committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry,” U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman stated.

Her ruling noted that Cook County Clerk David Orr filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, which argued that couples should not have to wait until the Illinois law went into effect on June 1.

Orr released a statement after the ruling saying he will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses "immediately."

The downtown Bureau of Vital Records, in the lower level of the Daley Center, will be open an extra two hours tonight until 7 p.m.for gay couples who want to get marriage licenses after work.


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