CHICAGO — Equality Illinois, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, said Monday it plans to launch a $500,000 effort to promote same-sex marriage ahead of the 2014 election.
The civil rights group says half the money will go toward voter education efforts, while the remainder will be used by the group’s political action committee to fight opponents.
“We will not shy away or be outraised in fighting for our freedom,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
“Everywhere candidates turn in 2014, they’ll have to be aware that the information we bring to voters and the direct action in their campaigns might be present to help or challenge them, depending on whether they believe in the right for all couples in Illinois to have equal recognition under the state’s marriage law,” added Cherkasov.
Equality Illinois said the $250,000 political action piece of the Fight Back for Marriage plan, though formidable, is a target set to directly confront the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which threatened to spend $250,000 to oppose Republican legislators who support marriage equality.
“We will defend those candidates who demonstrate a dedication to the freedom to marry through their votes and campaign commitments,” said Jeremy Gottschalk, chair of Equality Illinois PAC board of directors.
“And we will ensure that those who stand in the way of marriage equality are held accountable to the voters. No opponents of marriage equality can be sure that their re-election campaigns will be easy next year,” he said.
Lawmakers in the House adjourned last month without a vote on a measure that would have made Illinois the 13th state to allow gay marriage.
The bill’s sponsor said he didn’t have enough votes to pass the legislation, which had already been approved in the state Senate.