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Local gay rights activists protest marriage amendment

By Josh Noel

Tribune staff reporter

Published June 6, 2006, 7:08 PM CDT - LINK

As senators debated a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage, a small band of activists gathered downtown Tuesday to denounce the measure as a Republican Party diversion from the country's true ills.

Flanked by a pair of rainbow flags, Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, said the GOP is using the issue to deflect attention from the war in Iraq, questionable intelligence gathering ordered by the White House and President Bush's sagging job-approval ratings.

The president endorsed the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment during his most recent weekly radio address.

"The Republican Party is using gays and lesbians as a scapegoat for the nation's problems," Thayer said. "We reject this scapegoating."

Thayer and members of the Gay Liberation Network gathered outside the Kluczynski Federal Building at midday to air their objections to the amendment, which was in its third day of debate in the U.S. Senate.

Thayer said it was important to speak out because "we've got people in Washington, D.C., talking about us in the third person, and we want to be speaking for ourselves."

Wearing a "Keep it Gay!" baseball cap, Gay Liberation Network member Bob Schwartz said the issue "is really about civil rights."

"Rather than 'gay marriage,' I prefer to call it 'marriage equality,'" he said.

Speakers also criticized the Democratic Party for not opposing the proposed amendment vigorously enough.

The gathering attracted the attention of several passersby, several of whom said they support the right for gay people to be married.

"I'm all for equal marriage rights for all," said Juan Martinez, 28, a graduate student. "Twenty years from now, it will seem foolish that anyone was against this."


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


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