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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.


'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.”


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."


Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Rocked by Gay Sexual Harassment Claim

On Monday, a former high-ranking state treasurer employee filed a federal lawsuit leveling sexual harassment allegations against Dan Rutherford, who is currently involved in a four-way race in the GOP primary for Illinois governor. The Chicago Sun Times reports:

Rutherford michalowski The former employee, Ed Michalowski [far right], accused Rutherford of making unwanted sexual advances against him, starting in 2011 and also alleged that Rutherford’s chief of staff did nothing when the incidents were reported.

Michalowski, 43, served as Rutherford’s director of community affairs and marketing. He resigned last week, telling the Sun-Times he felt intimidated by a news conference Rutherford held promising to combat the allegations while flanked by former federal agents.

Among Michalowski claims is that in 2011 Rutherford held an overnight office retreat at Rutherford’s Chenoa home, entered Michalowski’s bedroom and grabbed his genitals.

Following news of the lawsuit, Rutherford held another press conference denying the allegations, which you can watch AFTER THE JUMP

Rutherford has seen his poll numbers slip since the allegations surfaced.

Continue reading "Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Rocked by Gay Sexual Harassment Claim" »


Chicago Congressional Candidate: Autism and Dementia are God's Punishment for Gay Rights

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Earlier this week we reported on a UK lawmaker who was suspended after claiming that floods were the result of the government's legalization of same-sex marriage.

Welcome to Chicago, where a Republican hopeful in a Congressional race for the 9th District feels the same way. Susanna Atanus, a twice-failed candidate for the office, gave her views in an interview with the Daily Herald:

"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's Republican opponent David Earl Williams III has views that are a bit more to the left.

Williams responded that AIDS is spread by unsafe sexual practices in all people, not just homosexuals, and said that as a veteran he was offended by her comments.

"I've served with people who were gay during, 'Don't ask, don't tell' and you aren't worrying about if someone is gay or not, you're worrying about if you're going to live the next day," Williams said.

Williams said he believes marriage should remain between a man and woman, but adds that the government should stay out of the marriage business and leave it up to churches.

Yet Williams has his own issues. He's a U.S. Navy veteran who won't say where he works because he hasn't told his employer he is running for Congress, and has a domestic violence order filed against him stemming from a long-distance relationship.

(via raw story)


Illinois Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Repeal Marriage Equality Law

Illinois Republican Senator Kyle McCarter has introduced a bill to repeal the state's marriage equality law which passed last October and takes effect in June, Buzzfeed reports:

MccarterMcCarter introduced Senate Bill 2637 to repeal the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed last fall, and amend the state’s marriage statute to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman.

“[McCarter] knows it’s not going to go anywhere,” said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who was he chief sponsor of the marriage equality bill in the Senate. “He’s just doing this to show his constituents.”

...

“This is just politics,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT rights group. “It’s an election year in Illinois and whenever that happens there’s always legislators who introduce legislation that will really go nowhere, but appeals to their base and I think that’s exactly what he’s done here.”


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