GLN Protests Anti-Gays’ Fundraiser
BY Amy Wooten
Jane Schmoll left her rainbow-decked boat to join the Gay Liberation Network’s ( GLN’s ) protest against a $100-a-plate yacht club fundraiser used to promote a state amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Schmoll and her partner are four-year members of the Columbia Yacht Club, where the fundraiser took place June 10. “ [ Our children ] are at home because I don’t want them to see this,” she said.
About 30 people gathered at Monroe Harbor in Chicago to protest the Illinois Family Institute’s ( IFI’s ) third fundraiser that launched a drive for an anti-gay amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Groups like the Queer and Trans Caucus of the Chicagoland Anarchist Network joined GLN to call for the LGBT community’s critical need to “take the gloves off” and demand respect and equality, as well as the need to label groups like IFI as “bigots.”
GLN co-founder Andy Thayer expressed worry that the right-wing group will take advantage of a “very fractured” 2006 gubernatorial race to push its agenda. “And if past experience is any indication, the Republicans will go to it like horses to water and the Democrats won’t have the spines to stick up for us,” Thayer told Windy City Times.
It is critical that the LGBT movement gets back to basics and leads the fight, added Thayer. “We, the LGBT people, have to do this ourselves,” Thayer said. “If we aren’t in the forefront, we can’t ask others to stick up for us.”
The fundraiser’s keynote speaker was Phil Burress, the architect of Ohio’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a leader in the fight for a similar federal amendment.
Protesters also raised concern over IFI joining the American Family Association’s recent attacks on 2006 Chicago Gay Games sponsors, including Kraft Foods.
“Our purpose of being here is to isolate them as a gang of bigots,” said Bob Schwartz, another GLN member.
According to IFI Executive Director Peter LaBarbera, the group plans to “protect marriage” by passing an advisory referendum to push the state legislature into passing an amendment.
“We hope [ IFI ] are not representative of the mainstreampeople who are tolerant and supportive of families no matter of what sort,” said GLN member Roger Fraser, who hopes the IFI doesn’t carry a lot of legislative weight.
The hopes of the IFI took a blowand those of gay-rights advocates became realityin January with the inclusion of the term “sexual orientation” in the Illinois Human Rights Act.