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Illinois GOP Committeemen Who Tried to Boot Party Chair for Support of Marriage Equality Get Replaced

Last year, you may recall, a group of Illinois Republicans made an attempt to oust former Illinois GOP chair Pat Brady for his statements in support of marriage equality.

BradySix of seven Republicans who signed a letter to oust Brady have been replaced in their committee posts, according to the AP, while the seventh was re-elected to a new term.

The ideological shifts in the party's organizational structure come as Republicans in Illinois and nationally are working to expand and attract women and minority voters as they look to November.

In all, only seven of 18 committeemen were re-elected to new four-year terms.

"There were some people that have moved on that were great, and then there were others that were absolutely destructive and were not good for the party and they're gone," said Brady, who is no longer a member of the committee. "All in all, it was a good night, (bringing in) a lot of new blood.”

The thinking mirrors that of Republicans in Nevada, who recently removed opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion from the party platform.


Illinois House Rejects Bill Banning Gay 'Conversion Therapy'

The Illinois House has rejected a bill banning gay conversion therapy for minors, the Sun-Times reports:

CassidyThe measure, proposed by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, lost on a 44-51 roll call despite her plea to colleagues to stop gay, bisexual and transgender teens 17 and under from being “horribly and humiliatingly abused.”

“This treatment plan causes depression, causes suicidal actions and is incredibly harmful to children,” said Cassidy, who is openly lesbian and one of the lead architects of Illinois’ same-sex marriage law.

“The practice of conversion therapy is dismissed by every major scientific organization and should not be utilized. There’s not a single scientific basis for one’s sex orientation being a disorder,” she said. “We need to protect our children.”

A similar bill to ban the harmful practice recently failed in Minnesota and was withdrawn in Maryland. The measure is pending in New York.

Bills have passed in Washington state, New Jersey, and California,


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" »


Illinois House Panel Advances Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy in 9-6 Vote

The Illinois House Human Services Committee advanced a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors today in a 9-6 vote, Capitol Fax reports:

IllinoisBernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, said so-called “conversion therapies” for youths pretend to supposedly “cure” people of being gay, but have actually proven to be very harmful and are actively opposed by leading mental health and medical professional groups.

“This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate,” Cherkasov said.

The measure would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. The bill’s chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.


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.


Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray, Who Was First to Marry in Illinois, Dies at 65

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Vernita Gray (left), who married her wife Patricia Ewert last November in Illinois' first legal gay marriage, has died of bone and brain cancer at 65.

Gray was allowed to marry Ewert before marriage equality's then effective date of June 1 after an order from the U.S. District Court in Chicago allowed it, given Gray's terminal illness.

Marriage equality has since been allowed statewide after Attorney General Lisa Madigan published guidance in early March.

The AP reports:

[Family friend Jim] Bennett says Gray advocated for same-sex marriage long before many gay rights activists saw it as a possibility, and she had a knack for working with people across the political spectrum.

Our thoughts go out to Gray's wife, family, and friends.


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