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Black clergy air radio ads opposing Illinois marriage equality bill

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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CHICAGO — Chicago-area black clergy amped up opposition to a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, airing radio ads and “robo-calling” residents in black communities urging them to ask their representatives to vote against the bill.

The state Senate last month approved legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry; it awaits a floor vote in the House, where Speaker Michael Madigan has said passing it will be “very difficult.”

A new group called the African American Clergy Coalition said it began airing 60-second commercials Tuesday on black radio stations and also plans a “street campaign” to supplement the telephone campaign. The phone messages feature the voice of former state Sen. James Meeks, who is senior pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church.

The campaign comes as supporters of gay marriage have increased pressure on lawmakers to pass the measure. Last week, seven Democratic Illinois congressmen urged supp ort of the bill in a letter calling for “basic legal protections to all Illinois families.”

Some business leaders and religious groups also have voiced support for making Illinois the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage, two years after the state approved civil unions. And Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would approve gay marriage if it comes to his desk.

But black pastors are joined in their opposition by other religious leaders, including Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

“We stand united with our brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in our joint opposition to any deviation from traditional marriages of male and female,” said Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago and presiding bishop of the New Century Fellowship Churches International.

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