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Gay marriages began yesterday in Illinois, statewide

Yesterday was the first day that gay couples could marry in every Illinois county.

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02
Jun
2014

Permit snafu derails Chicago health expo

Montrose Rock, Chicago, gay news, Washington Blade

Montrose Rock in Chicago is billed as largest testing event in U.S. (Photo by Daniel Schwen; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

CHICAGO — A mixup over securing a permit for a sound system prevented Montrose Rock, credited as the country’s largest one-day HIV testing event and health fair, from happening this year during Chicago’s Black Pride event, the Windy City Times, a gay Chicago paper, reports.

A “retooling” of both the event and time will occur in 2015, according to organizer Arig Cabbler. It’s slated to take place on the Saturday before the Chicago Pride Parade. Burnham and Union parks, both considered as locations in 2014, are possible locales for next year, the Times reports.

The Rocks Coordinating Committee, which organizes the event, lost its tax-exempt status as a non-profit last year, the Times reports citing the IRS. Cabbler told reporters there that a new governing board has formed.

Even though a permit was not applied for at Montrose and the Lake, according to documents obtained by the Windy City Times, Cabbler did prepare a permit application on behalf of Brothers Health Collective for another park. Gabbler serves as the collective’s executive director.

Cabbler said Brothers Health Collective had served as primary fiscal sponsor. But, to receive government funding, the organization had to hold the event instead of serving as a sponsor.

13
Aug
2014

Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl

Anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock locks down his Instagram account as gay rumors grow.

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04
Jan
2014

Conservative media picks up Aaron Schock gay rumor

WorldNetDaily reports on the rumors that anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock is gay, only helping to fuel the flames.

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05
Jan
2014

NYT kinda outs Aaron Schock

The NYT reported on Itay Hod's outing of an unnamed GOP congressman, then linked to multiple stories naming him.

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16
Jan
2014

Schock and Sinema take a selfie

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Anti-gay Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) walks along looking at his phone just before the State of the Union Address as bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema digs through her bag. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay
Schock spots Sinema and stops to say hello. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock engage someone else in conversation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Schock looks up. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Shock sits on Sinema‘s lap. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema grabs her phone. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Schock takes Sinema‘s phone and holds it out as the two pose for a selfie. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock admire their photo together. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

 

29
Jan
2014

Mary Tuckey Requa dies at 65

Mary Tuckey Requa, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Mary Tuckey Requa, 65.

Mary Tuckey Requa died Dec. 16, 2013 at her home, according to her cousin, Susan McMillan. She succumbed to rectal cancer at the age of 65 and had been a Phelps, Wis., resident.

Originally of Lake Forest, Ill., Requa (who always went by “Tuckey,” her middle name) attended Marjorie Webster Junior College in Washington and continued to reside in Maryland for 34 years. In the 1970s, she worked for VIVA (Voices in Vital America) and for the Close-Up Foundation, which brings high school students to D.C. to learn about democracy.

For 20 years, Requa worked in theater administration, for Harlequin Dinner Theatre and NETworks, a theatrical production company that produces national tours of Broadway shows. She specialized in box office management as well as becoming an IT specialist. Requa, a lesbian, regularly sang and played guitar in Friday night cabarets at the theaters.

Requa was proficient in Spanish and in American Sign Language. She performed as a “voice actor” in musical theater productions at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University in Washington, serving as the singing voice for deaf actors who performed the roles using ASL. She was a great slow pitch softball player and played for the Montgomery County Gold Diggers women’s team from 1982-‘90.

She also enjoyed singing and playing guitar. She was an original member of the D.C. Area Feminist Chorus. One of her proudest moments was the chorus’s performance with Margie Adam at the “On the Road for Women’s Rights” concert in 1980. Tuckey performed both as a soloist and with friends at D.C.-area restaurants and clubs and at events, including at the Other Side, D.C. Pride, and at D.C. landmark club Mr. Henry’s. She also performed at fundraisers for several organizations, including a women’s shelter, My Sister’s Place. Requa performed on Judy Reagan’s 1982 album “Old Friends.” She sang with the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington and the Not What You Think a cappella ensemble for many years, and also played with the band, the Tom Boys. She loved nothing more than singing harmonies with friends. Requa loved her many guitars and treasured one originally owned by Steve Goodman whom she had opened for in Chicago in the ‘70s.

In 2005, Requa left D.C. to return to the Northwoods where her family had spent summers for more than a century. Requa moved to Phelps, Wis., and became the computer technician for the Phelps School District. She designed websites for local businesses through her Nakapaglaja Web Design. From 2005-2011, she co-hosted a local afternoon music show on public radio called “Your Favorites,” with her father Charley. She was the vice-chair of the WXPR board of directors. She was devoted to the town and volunteered countless hours for the Long Lake of Phelps Lake Association and the Phelps Chamber of Commerce. Requa was also an avid darts and horseshoe competitor.

She is survived by a large extended family and many friends.

Memorials can be sent to Patrick Requa (22486 West Illinois Route 173, Antioch, IL 60002). Initially, to be used to establish an osprey nest on Long Lake, a second memorial with the Phelps School District will also be created. A service and celebration of a great life will be held on July 27 at Hazen’s Inn, Phelps, Wis.

20
Feb
2014

Ill. Republicans who backed gay nuptials triumph in primaries

Republican Party, Illinois, Illinois General Assembly, Ron Sandack, Ed Sullivan Jr., Tom Cross, Judy Baar Topinka, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Ill. state Representatives Ron Sandack (R-Bolingbrook), Ed Sullivan, Jr. (R-Libertyville), Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) and Ill. state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka each won their Republican primaries. (Photos public domain)

Republican officials in Illinois who supported marriage equality won their primaries across the board this week — a development that LGBT rights supporters say demonstrates growing support for marriage equality even within the Republican Party.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the pro-LGBT American Unity Fund, counted four victories on Tuesday night among Republicans who supported marriage equality and said they represent a “turning point” for the party.

“These victories in Illinois demonstrate that we really are reaching a turning point, not only on the issue nationally, but we’re reaching a turning point within the Republican Party,” Cook-McCormac said. “It’s becoming safer and safer for Republican elected officials to follow their conscience, do the right thing and advance the freedom to marry.”

Each of the three Republicans who voted for marriage equality when it came before the Illinois State House in November — State Reps. Tom Cross, Ed Sullivan and Ron Sandack — faced primary challengers, but came out on top to keep their party’s nomination going into the general election.

Cross and Sullivan beat their competitors by double-digit points in the primary. Sandack scored a narrower win, defeating his opponent by 153 votes.

Additionally, Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who voiced support for marriage equality, didn’t face a primary challenge. She spoke at rallies in favor of marriage equality, including the ceremony in which Gov. Pat Quinn signed the marriage legislation into law.

Pat Brady, former head of the Illinois Republican Party who helped lobby for the marriage equality legislation for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the result “puts the issue to rest” over whether Republicans can be politically viable if they support same-sex marriage.

“The people that so loudly proclaimed that they were going to take out anybody in the Republican primary — or Democratic primary, for that matter — that voted for marriage equality turned out to be just what I thought they’d be: a bunch of paper tigers,” Brady said.

Brady, who resigned his position as party chair shortly after he announced his personal support for marriage equality, said the election results demonstrate a shift in the “political reality” of the Republican Party.

“It is a shift,” Brady said. “You can be pro-marriage equality, still be a good Republican and still win. And in a state like Illinois, to win the general election, I think it helps candidates.”

The results of the primary reflect the growing support for marriage equality nationwide — even within the Republican Party. A Washington Post/ABC News poll published earlier this month found record support for same-sex marriage and 40 percent of Republicans favor gay nuptials.

Support is particularly strong among young Republicans. A Pew Research Center poll published March 10 found 61 percent of Republicans under age 30 support same-sex marriage.

But one anti-gay group that worked to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois is disputing the notion the wins for Republican who voted for it represents change.

David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said the results are “absolutely not” a shift and instead the result of Republicans enlisting the help of Democrats to win primaries.

“It’s a very well-established fact that a lot of Democrats crossed over to vote in the Republican primary because there wasn’t a significant race for governor and for Senate on the Democratic ballot,” Smith said. “There was a quite a lot of union-plus-Democrat crossover.”

Smith also denied that wins for Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage had any wider implication of growing support for same-sex marriage within the GOP.

“I would point to the fact that the two social conservatives running for governor in a Republican primary got 59 percent of the vote together, allowing a more moderate Republican to win,” Smith said. “Obviously, social issues do matter to the majority — 60 percent or more — of Republican voters.”

But Cook-McCormac pushed back against the assertion that wins for Republicans who voted for marriage equality has no meaning, saying anti-gay groups are “running out of excuses.”

“They can create whatever excuses and draw whatever explanations that they like,” Cook-McCormac said. “The bottom line is they were out campaigned, out worked and they were out-appealed-to. Americans, and Republican voters in particular, are done with the anti-gay politics of the past and they’re ready to move forward based on the issues that unite all of us.”

The two sides nonetheless agree that marriage equality was the major issue for why these Republicans faced primary challenges. For Sandack, the candidate who came the closest to losing, anti-gay groups circulated a flier and aired TV ads displaying two men kissing (much to the consternation of Windy City Times, which has accused the groups of unlawfully stealing a photo of Sandack taken by the gay newspaper for the material).

The wins arguably represent a change from what happened with Republicans in New York who voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. According to The New York Times, one faced a difficult re-election and decided not to run again, another was defeated in a primary, and the other was defeated by a Democrat in the general election because a conservative in the race drew away votes.

“It’s demonstrated that our side has got a lot better at defending our kind,” Cook-McCormac said. “As we’ve seen in Illinois, there are very smart, sophisticated strategies being put in place independently in addition to bundling direct contributions to candidates that are helping to ensure that these legislators who show courage are well-positioned to win re-election.”

The pro-gay Illinois Unity PAC raised $155,000 to assist with independent expenditure efforts on behalf of Ed Sullivan and Ron Sandack, which primarily focused on public opinion research, multiple rounds of direct mail, live operator ID and get-out-the-vote calls, a source familiar with the PAC said. On the other side, the main anti-gay independent expenditure committee, Liberty Principles PAC, spent about $220,000 just attacking Sandack, the source said.

But the wins for pro-gay Republican weren’t across the board. In a bid for the Republican nomination to represent the state’s 9th congressional district in the U.S. House, Susanne Atanus, who has blamed tornadoes and autism on gay rights and abortion, beat out her more moderate competitor, David Earl Williams III, even though the state party called on her to drop out of the race.

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

Cook-McCormac downplayed the significance of Atanus’ win, saying she has “zero chance” in her bid against Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the heavily Democratic district.

“It’s always embarrassing whether it’s Democrats putting up far-left candidates or Republicans putting up far-right to see those people on the ballot,” Cook-McCormac said. “But I hardly believe a candidate like that is really representative of where Republicans are.”

Wins for Illinois Republicans who supported same-sex marriage raises the question of viability in the other two states that legalized same-sex marriage through the legislative process in 2013: Minnesota and Hawaii. Both of the primaries in those states will take place in August.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen in Hawaii is facing the threat of a primary challenger on Aug. 9, while State Rep. Jenifer Loon in Minnesota is facing the threat of a primary challenger on Aug. 12. The challengers to these lawmakers, who have no political experience, are running single-issue campaigns against the marriage equality votes.

Cook-McCormac spoke generally about the progress made on LGBT issues in the GOP when asked whether the Illinois primary results will predict the outcome of Republican primaries in Hawaii and Minnesota.

“I think that what you’re going to see is that other Republican candidates across the country who are being challenged by an increasingly small group of opponents on this issue, they’re going to have the resources they need to win, as well as the broad-based political support of Republicans who may have a diversity of opinions on the marriage issue, but who recognize that these public servants’ focus on lower taxes, smaller government, and creating more jobs is why they chose them to represent them in the first place,” Cook-McCormac said.

22
Mar
2014

Ill. same-sex marriage law takes effect statewide

Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Meagan Davis; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A law allowing same-sex couples to marry in Illinois took effect throughout the state on Sunday.

The Windy City Times reported a number of public events are scheduled to take place in the Chicago metropolitan area to celebrate the statute taking effect. These include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Equality Illinois on Monday hosting 15 same-sex couples who will tie the knot.

“It is such a historic moment for our state,” Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov told the Washington Blade before the law took effect. “For the first time ever no matter where you live in the state these couples in loving, committed relationships will have their love and family recognized as equal by the law. And that means so much for people.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last November signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in February ruled gays and lesbians in Cook County, in which Chicago is located, could immediately begin to marry. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan a few weeks later said other county clerks could issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Cass, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Jackson, Macon, McLean, Ogle, Perry, St. Clair, Wabash and Woodford Counties have already begun to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Five additional counties on May 30 issued marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

The Windy City Times reported that Champaign, Christian, Crawford and Montgomery Counties will open their clerk’s offices on Sunday to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Cook County Clerk’s Office of Vital Records will not open until Monday.

State law requires couples to wait 24 hours from the time they receive a marriage license until they tie the knot.

Illinois is now among 19 other states and D.C. in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gays and lesbians in 29 of the 30 remaining states in which gays and lesbians cannot marry have filed lawsuits seeking marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

More than a dozen federal judges have ruled in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the DOMA decision. State courts in New Mexico, Arkansas and New Jersey have done the same.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in Illinois since 2011.

Gays and lesbians will be able to receive certificates from county clerks under the state’s marriage law that will allow them to convert their civil union into a marriage. They can also choose to make their marriage retroactive to the date into which they entered their civil union.

01
Jun
2014

Illinois marriage bill author defends non-vote

Greg Harris, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay state Rep. Greg Harris drafted the same-sex marriage bill. (Photo by Leah Jones via Wikimedia)

LGBT rights advocates expressed anger on Friday after the Illinois House adjourned its legislative session without voting on a same-sex marriage bill.

Some of the criticism fell on gay Rep. Greg Harris, the author of the bill, for failing to bring it to a vote. The Illinois House speaker, Michael Madigan, has extended a deadline for the bill, which will allow it to come to a vote in a November veto session.

In a conversation with the Washington Blade on Monday, Harris said that a last-minute media blitz by marriage equality opponents had rankled some of the bill’s likely supporters. Harris said the decision to table the bill would lead to a better result in the long term, as colleagues could avoid having to go on the record before they were prepared to.

“I think that at the very end they realized that back in their home districts for some folks that there were horrendous distortions of the truth,” Harris told the Blade. “They wanted to be sure that their constituents understand that — one — this bill treats all people equally and — two — that we also respect the rights and freedoms of religions.”

Though following the vote, some same-sex marriage advocates criticized the bill’s author for not getting his colleagues on record, Harris said he believes the bill will have a better chance of passing before the end of the year if he’s able to give his colleagues more time to lay the groundwork in their districts.

“I think it is very clear that at the end when some of my colleagues came to me and said should the bill be called that day, they would not be able to vote for it, until they had time to get back to their districts and undo some of the misconceptions and misinformation out there and truly explain what the bill meant,” Harris said. “If a bunch of people had voted no, then it becomes incredibly difficult then to change those votes to yes should it come back later.”

But some longtime Illinois activists remain angry over the decision to table the measure, and claim the process was bungled due to secrecy and a myriad of political miscalculations.

“I am extremely angry at him,” said longtime Illinois gay activist Rick Garcia, senior policy adviser at Illinois advocacy group The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think it’s justified anger. But there are few with [Rep. Harris’] history of advocating for the gay community, and people with HIV, and his successes are innumerable.”

Garcia, who called Friday’s aborted vote “a disaster,” mixed praise with scorn when discussing Harris’ handling of the bill with the Blade on Monday.

“But I don’t want to point fingers or cast blame, because I’m just as much to blame,” Garcia said.

“I’m really angry and pissed off,” Garcia told the Blade. “I’m very angry at myself for allowing this fiasco to happen. I’ve passed all sorts of gay rights legislation in Illinois, and for months and months and months have been urging a true coalition approach — there was none — I have been urging we do something as simple as a roll call, and the sponsor would not share his roll call with any of us. Without a roll call we might as well just have blinders on, because we don’t know where we’re going or who to talk to or what to do. I also urged that we have a campaign manager for this, and then a guy who was Mr. Madigan’s staffer was the one that was hired. Shaw Decremer.”

Garcia told the Blade that he’s working with other Illinois LGBT community leaders to assemble a new coalition to work toward passage in the veto session, and is actively seeking leaders of a multitude of community organizations and people of color, “not just straight white boys.”

“They can hire as many straight professional lobbyists as they desire but they’re not going to drive the bus anymore,” he said. “Our community is, our supporters are, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Rep. Harris disputes the idea that community leaders were kept in the dark regarding the legislative process.

“I think there are layers and layers of involvement,” Harris said. “Each one is important and each one overlaps and interacts. There’s the public relations messaging. There’s the organizing of business leadership, there’s organizing of leadership in the Latino community, the African-American community, there’s on-the-ground, in-district organizing, there’s organizing of PFLAG families. There are many, many layers of organizing and I think people did wonderful, wonderful jobs.”

“Look at how fast we’ve moved on this issue,” Harris continued. “We didn’t get the result we wanted when we wanted, but we’re perfectly positioned to win.”

Harris said that opponents of same-sex marriage attempted to scuttle the legislation by turning historically marginalized communities against one another, and did so by using “robocalls” to pressure lawmakers and mobilizing religious leaders to lobby against the bill in a public, and — as Harris sees it — deceptive way.

“We’ve seen in state after state the same tactics from some of our opponents that have been used to try to drive a wedge between communities, and that is just not what this bill does,” Harris said. “If you read the press releases from some of the different religious groups that are affiliated with our opposition, they are crowing and taking credit,” he says.

Harris says that groups like the Urban League and the NAACP, as well as prominent African-American supporters of the bill worked very hard to try to combat what Harris called the “misinformation” that opponents of the bill were pushing in districts where support was tenuous, but that not enough work had been done to promote the religious liberties espoused in the bill, and that he believes his colleagues need more time to secure their positions with their constituents back home, or risk being threatened in the primaries.

Harris sounded resolute when asked about not backing down and calling a vote on the marriage bill in the November veto session.

“[My colleagues] made a commitment that when we come back they will be willing to call a vote, so I’m going to take them at their word.”

Harris did not comment on whether speaker Madigan had been as supportive and enthusiastic about this legislation as he had been during the successful 2010 push for civil unions, saying the speaker had publicly stated his support for the marriage bill.

Harris praised the members of the African-American legislative caucus and the Republican caucus — namely GOP co-sponsors Ron Sandak and Ed Sullivan — who backed the bill despite strong pressure from opponents. However, Harris said that an impending battle over the minority leader position in the House forced some GOP lawmakers to hold back from supporting the bill at this time, saying they could not vote in favor of the bill because of “intra-party politics.”

The longtime lawmaker — who authored the state’s comprehensive non-discrimination bill, and the state’s successful civil unions bill — confirmed that the leader of the African-American caucus, Rep. Ken Duncan — also a sponsor of the bill — had encouraged him to call the vote “earlier in the session.” However, Harris said the caucuses themselves took no position on the bill, so pressure to not call the bill to a vote did not come from the  Black Caucus or the Republican caucus, but rather from individual lawmakers who Harris said expressed nervousness about coming primaries, and other issues specific to their home districts.

Harris encouraged same-sex marriage supporters not to get bogged down in looking for someone to blame, but to keep the pressure on lawmakers in anticipation of another chance at a vote in this fall’s session.

“We need to also remember our history and focus on the fact that our opponents will do whatever they need to stop full equality from coming, but the direction of this country is clear, and equality and fairness will win out,” Harris said.

“Also remember other history in the state of Illinois — back in 1975, the very first time that the Human Rights Act was put into place that protected people who are LGBT from being fired or denied housing or public accommodation because of their sexual orientation. And that took 30 years to pass, and there were ups and downs during that process. When I first introduced the marriage bill in 2007, I’m not sure that anyone thought that we would be as a nation in the position we are today where there’s been so much progress on this issue. But we have to remember that there is still hard work, that our opposition is fierce, that they have a strategy. We have to be sure that we are uniters and not dividers of communities, and we have to stand up for equality — not just for ourselves — but for all other people who suffer at the hands of repression.”

 

03
Jun
2013