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Ill. marriage foes deliver ballot signatures

by PlanetOut Network - Gay.com LINK

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Illinois said Monday they have enough signatures for a Nov. 7 ballot measure asking if lawmakers should amend the state constitution to block rights for same-sex couples.

The measure, delivered Monday to the state Board of Elections in Springfield, is an advisory referendum. It does not require lawmakers to act, but anti-gay backers hope a victory at the polls will pressure them to do so.

The Protect Marriage Illinois coalition said it collected 345,199 signatures. The measure needs 283,111 valid signatures, confirmed by state elections officials, to qualify for the ballot.

Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the right-wing Illinois Family Institute, called the coalition's effort "historic."

"The task of going to the ballot to call on our political leaders to protect traditional marriage has united people from every part of Illinois and from all race and backgrounds," he said. "Truly, this is a 'We the People' movement."

"This has nothing, nothing, nothing to do protecting marriage," Rick Garcia, the leader of Equality Illinois, told the Daily Herald. "If they were concerned about protecting marriage, they'd be passing petitions to ban divorce."

"This is an attempt to create a hate climate in Illinois," said Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network, a local gay rights group. "The whole battle is about legitimizing hate against LGBT people."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, has said such an amendment would divide people, rather than bring them together, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Daily Herald, Illinois has not had an advisory question on the ballot since 1978.

Seven states have anti-gay marriage amendments heading to the voters this year, including Alabama (in June), Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Idaho and Wisconsin.

Posted May 8, 2006


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