Monday, May 30, 2011

Pro and Anti-Gay Demonstrators at St. Peter's Church in Chicago

On Friday, May 27th, anti-gay advocates held a rally at St. Peter's Church in Chicago, IL, drawing supporters and detractors from around the region. Organized by anti-abortion group Americans for Life, the rally not only protested an Illinois civil unions measure, but brought attention to the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative, which calls for marriage to be legally defined as the union of one man and one woman. Indeed, according to the Windy City Times, Bob Schwartz of the Gay Liberation Network believed that the anti-gay rally was primarily about organizing people around an anti-gay marriage amendment.

The Americans for Life website claims that it is time to say "no" to the alleged dilution of the divinely created family unit, condemning pro-gay Illinois politicians as "Judas" for supposedly abandoning moral values. (See www[dot]americansforlife[dot]com)

In preparation for the rally, the Americans for Life website encouraged readers to distribute a flyer on its website with rally information and ten alleged reasons why same-sex marriage is wrong. The flyer claimed that same-sex marriages are invalid because they supposedly offend God, violate "natural law", promote the "homosexual lifestyle" and the spread of HIV, among other homophobic myths. (Good as You was kind enough to post images of the flyer at its website.)

According to the Windy City Times, roughly 150 demonstrators attended the anti-gay rally. Scheduled speakers for the anti-gay rally included Adam Andrzejewski of For the Good of Illinois, Preston Noell of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, among others. Americans for Truth About Homosexuality has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and LaBarbera himself has a long track record of anti-LGBT activism, as Right Wing WatchBox Turtle Bulletin and Truth Wins Out have documented.

Fortunately, pro-LGBT groups, including the Gay Liberation Network, LGBT Change, and Join the Impact Chicago, organized a counter-protest nearby. Other groups, such as the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee, encouraged pro-LGBT people to attend the counter-protest.

In a recent post at Amplify Your Voice, Samantha described the efforts of pro-LGBT demonstrators at the counter-rally, who chanted as anti-gay speakers spoke. After praising the organizers of the counter-protest, she stressed the importance of speaking out against homophobia.

I think it’s important that GLN (the Gay Liberation Network), Join the Impact Chicago, and LGBT Change organized this counter-protest. We all know that there are misguided, ignorant people out there who are against equal rights for LGBTQ people and against a person’s intelligence to make their own health care decisions, and we know that no matter how long we try, there are some people who will never understand that they are on the wrong side of history. But when they preach such hateful intolerance, they are affecting more people than themselves- they affect everyone who hears them.
Several videos of the rally are available at YouTube, including this video of Peter LaBarbera's speech. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

In the video, LaBarbera mocked pro-LGBT demonstrators across the street from the rally, accusing them of being hateful. He told the audience about a petition to put a question on the 2012 ballot regarding an amendment to the Illinois constitution that would restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

LaBarbera listed several alleged "victims" of "homosexual activism", including Jim and Beth Walder (who refused to rent space to a gay couple at their bed and breakfasts), Crystal Dickson (who was fired from the University of Toledo after penning an anti-gay opinion piece for a newspaper), and Julea Ward (a former counseling student at Eastern Michigan University who refused to affirm a gay client during a practicum). He referred to the university's request that Ward go through remediation as "thought control", demonizing the LGBT movement at the 6:34 mark of the video.
"We're talking about the gay thought police coming and telling people what they can believe in the United States of America, and they say theirs is a civil rights movement." [Crowd boos]
In a brazen reversal, LaBarbera claimed that it was advocates for LGBT equality, not homophobes, who were promoting hatred, and that proponents of homophobia were the true "victims." Predictably, his speech at the May 27th rally neglected to mention the countless real victims of homophobic and transphobic discrimination, harassment, and violence.

Let's hear it for the Gay Liberation Network, LGBT Change, Join the Impact Chicago, and all those who attended the May 27th counter-rally for standing up to homophobia. They refused to remain silent in the face of Religious Right intolerance, and they sent a clear message that the anti-gay rally did not speak for all Chicagoans.

To see photos of the rally and counter-rally, click here and here. To read additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

The Advocate: Antigay, Pro-Gay Rallies Set for Chicago

Gay Chicago News: LGBT equality advocates confront anti-LGBT rally in Loop

Chicago Tribune: Opponents and defenders of civil unions square off in protests

Joe.My.God: Porno Pete Stages Anti-Gay Marriage Rally in Downtown Chicago


  1. Have to admit, I couldn't get through much of that video. But I'm glad to hear there's a healthy protest in Chicago. Good reporting, Ahab.

  2. Donna -- Thanks. The video was tough for me to watch too. At least it was only 9 minutes.

  3. It's not easy being a bigoted hater. Your civil rights - to hate and to forbid consenting adults from loving whomever they choose - are constantly challenged by the servants of that invisible demon, Satan. //Sarcasm off.


  4. Cognitive Dissenter -- Yeah, poor babies. I'm amazed at how they can justify such a reversal to themselves.


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