As Rhode Island is about to officially join nine other states & the District of Columbia in making marriage legal for gay & lesbian couples Illinois remains a battlefield. This Saturday May 4th pro gay forces are facing off against the homophobic "Illinois Family Institute" a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group who is demonstrating against Rep. Ron Sandack a Republican legislator who has pledged to vote for Illinois's equal marriage rights bill. The competing demonstrations will be at 11A in front of Sandack's office at 633 Rogers Street, Downers Grove, IL. According to the Gay Liberation Network, Sandack's support for marriage equality counters the stereotype peddled by some political operatives that the pro & anti gay sides are defined by party labels. If that were the case, Illinois's equal marriage bill would have sailed through years ago, given that the Democratic Party has had a solid lock on both houses of the legislature and the governorship since 2003. For many years the situation with the marriage rights bill seemed eternally hopeless, gathering at best a half-dozen co-sponsors as it was routinely introduced each session. But as public anger grew over the free-fall of the state's finances & popular sentiment favoring equal marriage rights raced well ahead of the political class, Democratic operatives sensed an opportunity to throw their base a bone by finally giving the bill a push. Bob Schwartz of the Gay Liberation Network stated, "That Republican Ron Sandack is backing marriage equality in Illinois is a clear indication that the problem with the marriage bill is not only Republicans, but also the leadership failure of powerful Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan. Madigan commands a super-majority, but is unwilling to spend political capital for gay equality. He holds it in reserve to help his daughter become governor next year. As with other legislation, if Madigan wanted the marriage bill to pass, it would already be law."
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