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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

Williams_atanus

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

Gray

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.


Anti-Gay Groups Fail: All Three Illinois Republicans Who Voted for Marriage Equality Win Primaries

Though they were under attack from NOM and local anti-gay 'pro-family groups, none of the Illinois Republicans who voted for marriage equality lost their primaries yesterday.

The Washington Post reports: Sandack

When the Illinois state House passed a bill to legalize gay marriage last fall, just three out of 47 Republicans voted for it. On Tuesday, none of them lost. State Rep. Tom Cross (R) cruised to a 14-point victory in the primary for state treasurer while state Rep. Ed Sullivan (R) easily won renomination in his district. The third, state Rep. Ron Sandack (R), narrowly edged out his opponent by fewer than 200 votes, according to an unofficial tally. The close margin could mean the race goes to a recount. Sandack and Sullivan both faced pressure from third-party groups looking to oust them over their gay marriage votes. In Sandack's case, the issue became a central focus. Had the three Republicans lost, it would have probably given pause to Republicans considering backing gay marriage in other states where the matter comes up in the future. But given two decisive wins and a third tentative victory, gay rights advocates have a lot to be happy about a day after the election.


Illinois Republicans Who Voted For Same-Sex Marriage Under Political Attack

Matune

The rightwing fringe of the GOP continues to eat their own, this time in Illinois where the three Republican state representatives who voted in favor of same-sex marriage last fall are the targets of a series of attack ads that mock and condemn the reps for their vote.

Ron SandackThe ads are predictably homophobic in nature: one billboard ad from the group Illinois Family Action says "You can kiss the GOP goodbye with officials who vote like Democrats" next to an image of two men kissing, while Liberty Principles PAC sent out a mailer with a photograph of Rahm Emanuel in a leotard and the line "Now we know where [Representative] Ron Sandack learned how to dance." The PAC is spending $13,500 to attack Sandack.

When interviewed by ABC Chicago, Sandack said,

I'm trying to expand our party. I'm trying to win hearts and minds by being inclusive. And I think some folks don't like that.

In the meantime, LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois' Illinois Unity PAC are backing Sandack and Ed Sullivan, Jr. with at least $150,000 in spending.


Illinois Attorney General Gives Green Light for Statewide Marriage Equality

Illinois' marriage equality law can take effect statewide immediately, according to guidance issued Tuesday by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Sun-Times reports:

IllinoisIn a letter to Macon County Clerk Stephen Bean dated Tuesday, Madigan wrote that “the protections guaranteed by the Constitution must exist without regard to county lines.”

Bean wrote to Madigan’s office after U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled on Feb. 21 that Cook County could immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That ruling, in Lee vs. Orr, applied only to marriages in Cook County because the class-action suit was filed against Cook County Clerk David Orr.

“For the reasons explained in more detail in the legal papers filed in the Lee case, my office’s position is that current Illinois restrictions against same-sex marriage violate the equal protection rights that belong to all citizens under the United States Constitution,” Madigan’s letter said.

The letter goes on to say that although the ruling in Lee is not binding on other counties, a “consistent stream” of federal court rulings have declared restrictions against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The marriage equality law was not supposed to take effect until June 1. Cook County and Chicago began issuing licenses last month after a judge's ruling.


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