Illinois

Voting Rights Advocates Rack Up More Wins

Earlier this month, PFAW reported on what has gone right for voting rights at the state level in 2014. While there is much more work to be done to enact needed reforms and to step up and counter threats when the right to vote is under attack, states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have shown that we can win. Now we've uncovered even more evidence of why we can and should keep fighting the challenges that lay before us.
PFAW

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
PFAW

'Family' Group: 'Pimp' Jay-Z And 'Homosexual Faux-Pastorette' Queen Latifah Hurl Grammys 'Spitball' at God

Anti-gay activists including Rush Limbaugh, Fox News’ Todd Starnes, and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and Tim Wildmon have been having a field day this week attacking the Grammy Awards for hosting a performance involving a mass marriage that included same-sex couples. Today, the Illinois Family Association, the state affiliate of the AFA, joined the fray, sending out an email attacking the awards show for contributing to the “destruction of marriage.”

IFI’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins writes that the Grammys were “a tragic freak show” and “a gawdy[sic] spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.”

The wedding ceremony, Higgins writes, was “a sorry, sick, non-serious ceremony that looked like something from the garish dystopian world of the Hunger Games” and “a non-wedding festooned with all the indulgent gimcrackery [sic] of Satan's most alluring playground: Hollywood.” She particularly attacks “homosexual faux-pastorette” Queen Latifah and “the Dorian Gray-esque” Madonna for taking part in the proceedings.

But Higgins disapproval goes beyond the same-sex marriage portion of the entertainment. She also criticizes Beyoncé -- the object of a fewrecent tirades from the Right -- for providing a “vulgar anti-woman, anti-marriage performance” that Higgins compares to “soft-core porn.”

“Beyoncé has abused her power as a beloved role model for young girls to teach them terrible lessons about sexuality and marriage,” Higgins writes. Her anger extends also to Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z, whom she claims “seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife.”

Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife's immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not?” Higgins asks. “If it's money, how is he different from a pimp?”

This past Sunday night's Grammy awards was a tragic freak show that demonstrated the entertainment industry's arrogance, ignorance of marriage, and disregard for children. It was a gawdy spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.

The spectacle was bookended by a soft-core porn performance by the not-single lady Beyoncé who twerked and jerked her half-revealed derriere in a series of "dance" moves that simulated sex and stimulated sexual appetite, while the crowd cheered in puerile excitement.

Beyoncé was later joined by her husband Jay-Z who seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife. What kind of man gets pleasure from his wife's flaunting of her sexuality and from the certain knowledge that men desire to do things to his wife because of her arousing dress and actions? Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife's immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not? If it's money, how is he different from a pimp?

Beyoncé's performance reinforced the cultural deceit that modesty and the notion that conjugal love is private are archaic puritanical irrelevancies. Beyoncé has abused her power as a beloved role model for young girls to teach them terrible lessons about sexuality and marriage. Her performance raises many questions:

  • What motivates a young, married mother to flaunt her partially-exposed sexual anatomy to the world and simulate sex movements?
  • Deep down is this what she truly wants to do?
  • Deep down does she really want her husband to delight in the objectification and commodification of her body for the prurient pleasures of other men?
  • Would Jay-Z and Beyoncé want their daughter to one day perform like her mother for the pleasures of men? What would they think about an 18-year-old Blue Ivy recreating her mother's performance but in a seedy club for the eyes of less expensively attired and botoxed men and women?
  • Is Beyoncé comfortable with her father watching her performance?
  • What kind of mixed message does this performance send to children? Parents and pediatricians tell children that parts of their bodies are "private parts" that only parents and doctors should look at or touch. We convey that message to them from the earliest prepubescent ages. So, what happens after sexual maturity? Do those "private parts" suddenly become public parts?
  • Is modesty in dress the same as prudery, or is it a virtue to be cultivated?

Beyoncé's vulgar anti-woman, anti-marriage performance foreshadowed the climactic setpiece of the evening: Queen Latifah, long-rumored to be a lesbian, officiated at the "weddings" of 33 couples, many of whom were same-sex couples, while accompanied by the preachy, feckless song "Same Love" by Macklemore and the song "Open Your Heart" by the Dorian Gray-esque Madonna. It was a sorry, sick, non-serious ceremony that looked like something from the garish dystopian world of the Hunger Games, replete with a cheering sycophantic audience, faux-stained glass windows, a faux-choir, a homosexual faux-pastorette, and "Madonna" with her faux-face. It was a non-wedding festooned with all the indulgent gimcrackery of Satan's most alluring playground: Hollywood.

Bishop Paprocki Hopes Anti-Gay Exorcism Will Show Gay People He Loves Them

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, took to LifeSiteNews during last week’s March for Life to defend his recent performance of an anti-gay exorcism. The gay rights foe explained that he performed the “minor exorcism” in order to “renounce Satan and break our relationship with the Devil” and “drive out the Devil from his influence that seems to be pervading our culture.”

He called the exorcism a “fitting” response his home state’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, adding that it is appropriate for a time when the “church is under persecution or some opposition, and certainly the redefinition of marriage is very much in opposition to God’s plan for married life.”

Paprocki said that the exorcism was done out of love for gay people, whom he explained need to be disciplined like children being punished by their parents: “Like any good parent will tell you that sometimes you have to disappoint your child, sometimes you have to say ‘no’ and sometimes you even have to punish them.”

Watch:

Illinois Family Institute Warns Of 'Eternal' Consequences For Notre Dame LGBT Group

The Illinois Family Institute, the state affiliate of the American Family Association that led the unsuccessful fight against marriage equality last year, is back to fighting smaller battles, this time attacking the University of Notre Dame for officially recognizing an LGBT group.

In an open letter to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins posted on IFI’s website, the group’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins expresses her “disappointment” that Notre Dame has for the first time recognized a student LGBT group, or as she calls it, “those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible.”

Higgins tells Jenkins that in recognizing its LGBT students, Notre Dame might as well affirm “other sin predispositions” like incest or pedophilia.

She then turns to the eternal consequences of LGBT organizing, warning that openly LGBT students will bring “nothing but temporal and eternal harm” to themselves and their colleagues.

I also want to express my disappointment that Notre Dame has chosen to recognize a “student organization” initiated and shaped by those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible. In permitting an organization that affirms subjective moral propositions that defy Catholic (as well as orthodox Protestant) doctrine, Notre Dame’s distinct Catholic identity has been weakened. Would Notre Dame recognize other “student organizations” initiated by those who affirm other sin predispositions (e.g. polyamory, consensual adult incest, or the “sexual orientation” recently designated “minor-attracted persons”)?


If the Notre Dame-recognized “LGBT” organization had been initiated by those who were committed to helping “LGBT” students live lives that embody Catholic beliefs on sexuality and gender, such an organization would be a service to Notre Dame students. Unfortunately, the central goals of students who affirm a homosexual or “transgender” identity are contrary to Catholic doctrine and as such can bring nothing but temporal and eternal harm—intellectual, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual harm—to “LGBT”-identifying students and the larger Notre Dame community.

Higgins did, however, praise Jenkins for Notre Dame’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate.

AFA Affiliate Defends Russian 'Gay Propaganda' Law

The Illinois Family Institute, a state affiliate of the American Family Association, sent an email to its members today featuring an essay by IFI’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins defending Russia’s draconian “gay propaganda” law.

Higgins calls the law – which is essentially a gag rule on gay rights advocacy – “reasonable and wise” and claims that gay rights advocates oppose it because  “nothing angers homosexual activists quite like being denied access to the hearts and minds of other people’s minor children.”

She goes on to claim that anti-gay conservatives in the U.S. face far more “draconian and insidious” penalties than gay rights advocates in Russia.

Higgins joins AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who not only praised the Russian law but said it didn’t go far enough.

To further put things in perspective, note that the consequences of violating this law are only fines of $120-150 for individuals, $1,200-1,500 for “officials,” and $12,000-15,000 for “legal entities.” Hardly sounds unreasonable to fine adults $150 for trying to inculcate other people’s children with their subjective beliefs about sexual morality, but nothing angers homosexual activists quite like being denied access to the hearts and minds of other people’s minor children.

Don’t be deceived, the outrage of homosexuality-affirming activists has nothing to do with concern for critical thinking, free speech, or intellectual diversity. Proof for that claim comes from a perusal of resources presented to American teens in their government schools on the topic of homosexuality. The suppression of conservative ideas on issues related to homosexuality is virtually absolute, and the consequences for violating the de facto bans on conservative resources are far more draconian and insidious than those imposed by the Russian law. Paying a $150 fine is small potatoes compared to the kind of personal and professional repercussions that would redound to any teacher in a public school who dared to present resources to minors that articulated conservative beliefs about homosexuality.

To assault people because of their beliefs or feelings is beyond the pale, as is making inflammatory statements that express a desire that others die, experience eternal damnation, or f**k themselves (things that are hurled at any public figure who dares to express moral propositions about homosexuality with which “progressives” disagree). Prohibiting the distribution of homosexuality-affirming resources to minors is both reasonable and wise.

(Emphases ours).

Bishop Paprocki Leads Anti-Gay Exorcism

Just as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was signing the marriage equality bill into law, right-wing Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Roman Catholic diocese of Springfield performed an exorcism over the state to cast out what he calls the Satanic forces behind same-sex marriage.

He told worshipers that the anti-gay exorcism was to show that “the church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Before a mostly full cathedral, the head of the capital city’s Roman Catholic flock looked both to the heavens and to Gov. Pat Quinn’s bill-signing ceremony for same-sex marriage Wednesday and uttered three words in Latin: “I exorcise you.”

With that, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki staged an unusual — and in Illinois, unprecedented — exorcism that asked God to “deliver us from evil” of a Quinn-led change in state law that will permit gay and lesbian couples to wed in Illinois despite the Catholic Church’s objections.



“The church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion,” he said.

After that introduction, Paprocki read the rite of exorcism in Latin as his voice echoed through the cavernous and ornate Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception church a few blocks from the state Capitol, where the legislation passed earlier this month.

“I exorcise you, every unclean spirit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort, and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paprocki said. “Be uprooted and put to flight from the Church of God from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine lamb.

“Dare no more, oh cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the church of God, to shake the chosen of God and sift them like wheat,” he continued.

In an unusual use of public services, the exorcism included two armed Springfield police officers stationed inside the church vestibule where parishioners entered from the street. At one point during the service, one of the officers strode to the front of the church, though his purpose was unclear. There were no disruptions during the hourlong event.

“Be gone Satan, father of lies, enemy of human salvation,” Paprocki said later, as he began the conclusion of the exorcism. “Give way to Christ, in whom you found no trace of your works. Give way to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church, which Christ himself won by his blood.”

Conservative Catholic Group Ties Illinois Tornadoes To Gay Marriage

America Needs Fatima, a project of the right-wing American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, is linking the tornadoes that hit Illinois this weekend to the state’s recent approval of a marriage equality bill. Robert Ritchie, the group’s executive director, is just asking the question:

Do you think the massive Illinois tornadoes are linked to the passing of the same sex “marriage” bill?

The massive tornadoes that hit Illinois after the passing of the same sex “marriage” bill, has stimulated many people to reflection.

In it, some see God’s chastisement; others see it as yet one more merciful warning from Providence; others yet deny both options and give various reasons.

What do you think?

Ritchie also offers a link to an America Needs Fatima article, “Is the Voice of God Resounding in the Recent Catastrophes,” which blames homosexuality for several natural disasters.

Illinois Marriage Opponent Will Not Go Down Without A Nonsensical Rant

On Tuesday, the Illinois legislature voted to make their state the 15th to allow marriage equality.
The marriage law’s primary opponent, the Illinois Family Institute, did not take it well.

In a blog post emailed to the group’s supporters last night, IFI “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins offers her “random thoughts” on the “tragic marriage vote,” which range from warning that “public schools will teach about sexual perversion in positive ways” to declaring that “plural unions” are now “inevitable” to lashing out at pro-equality Christians to comparing marriage equality to slavery, segregation, and “Hitler’s reign of terror.” 

We can only hope that Illinois will escape the fate of Maine, which IFI told us invoked the wrath of God when it legalized marriage equality.


Random Thoughts on Tragic Marriage Vote
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   11.06.13

My random thoughts following the vote on marriage:

1.)  Tuesday, cowardly and/or ignorant Illinois lawmakers in defiance of truth, history, logic, compassion, and in some cases, their own religious traditions voted to legally recognize non-marital unions as marriages. In so doing, they have expanded the role of government in the lives of Americans, diminished religious liberty, rendered inevitable the legalization of plural unions, and harmed children in incalculable ways. They have given their stamp of approval on the practice of denying children’s inherent right to have both a mother and father. And they have assured that public schools will teach about sexual perversion in positive ways to children from kindergarten on up.

4.) The Left makes the non-sequitur claim that because heterosexual marriages are failing, homosexual unions should be recognized as marriages. By that “logic,” one could argue that because marriages composed of two people are failing, we should legally recognize plural unions as marriages. Or because marriages composed of biologically unrelated people are failing, we should legalize incestuous marriages. Or because marriages between people of major age are failing, we should legalize marriage between adults and children.

5.) Far too many Christians and their religious leaders were missing in action on this battle and have been for a very, very long time. Churches are not educating either their adult members or their youth on the issue of homosexuality in general and marriage in particular, and this dereliction of duty leaves Christians either confused or, worse, persuaded by the lies of the world.

...

6.)  Far too many religious leaders claim the church should not be involved in “political issues.” But what if political issues are first biblical issues? During the slave era, should churches have remained silent as Scripture was twisted to justify slave-holding (just as it is twisted today to justify same-sex pseudo-marriage)? Was it right that so many Christians refused to stand for truth during Hitler’s reign of terror? Should Christians have refrained from participating in the Civil Rights marches in the 1960’s?
 

Illinois to Become 15th Marriage Equality State

It’s been an exciting few days for supporters of LGBT equality. Following last night’s Senate cloture vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, today the Illinois House passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, setting the stage for Illinois to become the 15th state in the nation with full marriage equality. One version of the bill has already been passed by the Illinois Senate, and Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign it. When he does, thirty percent of our nation’s states will have marriage equality.

PFAW has been on the ground in Illinois, supporting the push for marriage equality in any way we can. In addition to providing lobbying training materials so Illinois voters could bring their support for equality directly to their elected officials through calls, emails, and in-person visits, PFAW members joined thousands of friends in the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality last month.

In what the CEO of Equality Illinois has called the “national march toward full recognition of the dignity of all gay and lesbian couples,” Illinois has brought us one state closer to full marriage equality nationwide.  And while 15 states represents real momentum, we won’t stop until every committed couple in the country has access to the legal protections they need to take care of each other and their families.
 

PFAW

Thousands March, Demand Illinois House Vote On Marriage Equality Bill

On a cold, wet Tuesday this week, People For members joined an estimated 2,000 marriage equality supporters at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield for the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality. For two full hours prior to marching around the capitol complex, activists rallied for same-sex marriage, with major news cameras rolling.  Scores of activists, entertainers, politicians, and faith leaders called on the Illinois House of Representatives to pass SB 10, a bill legalizing marriage for same-sex couples which was passed by the Illinois State Senate early in 2013.


Highlights from the rally included out gay country singer Steve Grand performing his hit “All American Boy,” the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and Windy City Gay Choirs, and independent artist Sonia; along with a lineup of other performers and speakers demanding that House Speaker Michael Madigan hold a vote on SB 10.  In the middle of the event, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made an appearance.  With a pen in hand, Quinn said he was ready to sign the bill into law as soon as the House passes it, evoking a roar from the 2,000 attendees.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (daughter of the Speaker), State Comptroller Judy Barr-Topinka, and Secretary of State Jesse White all voiced their endorsements of SB 10.

But the biggest reaction of the day came from keynote speaker Bishop Carlton D. Pearson of the Churches of God In Christ, who called on the Illinois Legislature to “pass the damn bill” and foster a society of fairness, social justice, and inclusion in Illinois.  In the style of a sermon, Pearson delivered a powerful address, apologizing to the LGBT community on behalf of the evangelical Christian community for the lack of compassion previously given to them by some Christian leaders.


Following Pearson’s rousing speech, marchers funneled to the sidewalks surrounding the Capitol Building, at one point nearly completely encircling the complex with their numbers.  Check out this gallery of photos from the rally, and the recorded livestream of the event.

PFAW

Did You Know that Marriage Equality Has Invited the Wrath of God on Maine?

The American Family Association’s Illinois affiliate is calling in the big guns in its effort to defeat a proposed marriage equality bill in the state. The Illinois Family Institute sent out a fundraising email today with a message from Michael Heath, a leading anti-gay figure in Maine. In his message, Heath warns Illinoisans that since passing marriage equality legislation by popular referendum last year, Maine has “handed the sodomy movement the keys to Maine’s home” and is now experiencing God’s “judgment and destruction.”

Heath last made headlines when he held a press conference applauding Gov. Paul LePage for his notorious “Vaseline” comment.

In the late 1980′s God placed me at the Christian Civic League of Maine.  Formed in 1897 by clergy, laymen and academics the League fought throughout the 20th century to keep Christianity at life’s center in Maine.  I was often told by politicians that the League is the conscience of Maine.

Shortly after my arrival at the League the men who led the ministry, all of them respected leaders in their communities, decided that the matter of “gay” rights must be addressed by the League.  We realized that Satan was rapidly undermining sexual rules — written and unwritten — that protected all the people of Maine.

Adding the phrase “sexual orientation” to other minority designations in our human rights laws would lead only to mischief.  We noted that no other institution was stepping up to defend common sense.

To their credit these men put the League on the firing line in this battle.  Throughout the 1990′s we remained firm in our resolve to resist.  Our efforts bore much fruit.

Homosexuality was hotly debated for twenty years.  The Christian Civic League of Maine proved to be the only institution with the will to fight.  Overwhelmed, wearied and confused by years of  attacks of all kinds a slim majority of Mainers grudgingly handed the sodomy movement the keys to Maine’s home. 

Tragically marriage, family, decency and common sense are all collapsing in the Pine Tree State.  The truths of Genesis 19 and Romans 1 are becoming evident.

I am encouraged by the efforts of Dave Smith and the Illinois Family Institute to avert this same disaster in the Midwest.

Fourteen states have fallen to the radical homosexual agenda.  New Jersey is the latest state to pledge obeisance to this evil.  And make no mistake, a society’s decision to turn it’s back on God’s definition of marriage can end only one way. 

Judgment and destruction.

Now is the time for Christians everywhere to increase their commitment to groups like the Illinois Family Institute.  No matter what happens this year with the marriage debate Christians must deepen their resolve to live as Christians in our modern world.  We must choose to do this out of love for God and our fellow man.

Sexual sin is a destroyer.  Jesus Christ is the creator.  We are His creation, and we must defend and assert this proposition relentlessly in America.

In God we Trust.

Illinois Anti-Marriage Activist Compares Himself To WWII Veterans, Claims 'America Will Collapse' Under Marriage Equality

David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, a state affiliate of the American Family Association, sent out a fundraising appeal today warning that if anti-gay activists fail to stop marriage equality legislation in Illinois, “America will collapse” like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Smith compared his own fight against the "evil agenda" of gay rights to that of American soldiers in World War II: “We should be inspired to defend marriage with the same courage, conviction, tenacity, and sacrifice that the greatest generation fought to defend American principles and to honor their fallen.  If we don’t stop the enemy from achieving his goal of destroying the family, there won’t be any monuments to visit.”

As a father of six children, I often wonder what Illinois will be like in twenty years.  What will it be like for your children and grandchildren?

We cannot know for sure.  We can’t predict the future.  Only God knows for certain.

I do know, however, that things are sure to be worse, much worse for our children, if we don’t do something now to stop the moral collapse, which will be hastened if our lawmakers undermine marriage by legalizing same-sex “marriage.”

I am doing everything in my power to prevent that from happening.  I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on my car and logged weeks away from my family to fight this evil agenda in 2013, and I need your help today.

I’m not alone in making sacrifices.  Many courageous people are stepping up and doing their part, including the staff and a dozen or so dedicated volunteers at IFI.  I need you to do your part today.

The Chicago Sun Times admitted this week that Leftists are still “shy” of the votes they need to pass homosexual “marriage.”  And that is because you have refused to stay silent.  Now we must finish what we started earlier this year.  We must show up in Springfield again.  The politicians need to know how strongly you feel about this attack on common sense, reason, and decency.  They have to understand that marriage redefinition isn’t as popular as some politicians and media pundits want you to believe it is.

And our politicians need to know that we aren’t going to allow them to ignore the best interests and rights of children and individual religious liberties without a fight.  I can do no less for my children.  It is my duty.  It is our duty.

A friend told me about a group of WWII veterans from Iowa that drove all the way to Washington D.C. this week. They risked arrest by passing through the barricades set up by the president to keep veterans from viewing their monuments. We should be inspired to defend marriage with the same courage, conviction, tenacity, and sacrifice that the greatest generation fought to defend American principles and to honor their fallen.  If we don’t stop the enemy from achieving his goal of destroying the family, there won’t be any monuments to visit.  America will collapse.  It is only a matter of time.  Read Genesis 19.

(Emphases are ours.)

Keeping ALEC In The Spotlight

When the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council recently held its 40th annual meeting in Chicago, thousands -- including PFAW activists -- crashed the party.
PFAW

PFAW Crashes ALEC’s Party at Biggest Anti-ALEC Protest to Date


All photos by Scott Foval.

Bill Moyers once called ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) the “most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of.”  Today, PFAW is helping to change that – coming out in full force to shed some light on the harm ALEC’s extreme agenda causes to everyday Americans.

As ALEC holds its 40th annual meeting in Chicago, PFAW is there – along with ally organizations, labor groups, and advocates from around the country – to crash their party.  The protest happening now outside Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton is the biggest anti-ALEC protest to date. 

The mass of people at the rally underscores the growing momentum to expose and fight back against ALEC, which connects corporate lobbyists with state legislators to pass special interest legislation in all fifty states.  For four decades, ALEC has worked behind closed doors to get laws harmful to everyday Americans on the books – working against paid sick days, pushing tax policies favoring the rich, and helping “Stand Your Ground” become law in more than two dozen states.  As our signs say, “ALEC corporations write laws, real people suffer.”

And today, we’re calling them out.

PFAW

Rios and Lutzer Link Homosexuality to Pedophilia, Crime and Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro

American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios chatted with prominent Chicago pastor Erwin Lutzer today about homosexuality and the unsuccessful same-sex marriage bill in Illinois. Lutzer said one reason he opposes marriage equality is because of Chicago’s crime rate: “We have such crime here in Chicago, young people being slaughtered every night, we wake up in the morning and there’s been another murder, another teenager has been killed. They said in the midst of a society that is so desperate and so high-crime ridden, do we really now need laid upon this the destruction of the family and the destruction of marriage?”

The two also reiterated their belief that it is wrong to allow same-sex couples to marry just because they love each other. Lutzer, responding to a pro-gay marriage Facebook message, claimed that even pedophiles believe that they “love” the children they abuse. Rios added that even Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who kidnapped three women, claimed that he loved the women he held in captivity.

Activist Toolkit: Confronting ALEC on its 40th Annual Meeting

 

 

Table of Contents:

Taking Action in Chicago

Social Media Tools

Submitting Letters to the Editor

ALEC Primer

ALEC on the Issues

Further Reading and Acknowledgments

 

Background:

On August 7-9th, the American Legislative Exchange Council will be holding its annual policy meeting at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, Illinois.  Over the course of three days, following standard ALEC protocol, state lawmakers from across the country will be wined and dined by corporate lobbyists; “educated” by climate change deniers and free market doctrinaires; and instructed on what corporate-backed bills they should bring back to their respective statehouses.

In Chicago, ALEC will be celebrating its 40th year of existence.  ALEC was founded in the city by a coterie of conservative activists in 1973, and has decided to come back to its roots for its 40th annual celebration.  For forty years, ALEC has worked behind closed doors to push its extreme agenda, one that harms the American people and weakens our democratic institutions. 

That is why activists are rallying to make sure ALEC receives the proper “welcome” it deserves, and that ALEC lawmakers, ALEC corporate sponsors, and ALEC supporters across the country are called out  for backing such a reactionary group.  

We hope the following toolkit helps you in your efforts to expose ALEC in Chicago.

 

Taking Action In Chicago:

On August 8th at 12:00 PM outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, thousands of concerned citizens are holding a protest against ALEC.

 

[Click HERE for a map]

Palmer House Hilton

17 East Monroe Street

Chicago, IL 60603

 

People will be driving in from across Illinois and neighboring states to rally against ALEC.  If you do not live in the area, please pass this information along to anyone you know in the Chicago-area who may be able to attend. Turnout will be high and every person who can make it should come.

If you can attend the protest, please let us know!  Send an email to People For the American Way’s Midwest Coordinator Scott Foval at sfoval@pfaw.org, who will be on site attending the rally and will give you up-to-date information about the event. You can follow him on twitter at @scottfoval.

 

Taking Action Across The Country:

ALEC’s Chicago meeting provides activists across the country the unique opportunity to raise awareness in local communities about ALEC, ALEC supporters, and the extreme ALEC agenda.  People For the American Way is here to help facilitate that advocacy. Below you will find activist tools for amplifying ALEC exposure via social media and drafting and submitting Letters To the Editor.

 

Amplifying ALEC Exposure via Social Media:

The ALEC Exposed campaign has utilized social media effectively to encourage lawmakers and corporations to drop ALEC.  With the upcoming event in Chicago, PFAW has designed the following social media tools to keep up the pressure.

 

Facebook Shares

Click here to share this toolkit on Facebook. 

Click on the following images to share them on Facebook:

 

Tweets

ALEC Exposed activists have used and will continue to use the hashtag #ALECexposed on all tweets related to ALEC.  For the Chicago event, activists will also be using the hashtag #ALECinChicago.

 

Relevant Twitter Handles and Links:

@peoplefor – People For the American Way’s Twitter handle

@PFAW_WI – People For the American Way Midwest’s Twitter handle

@scottfoval – People For the American Way Midwest Coordinator Scott Foval’s Twitter handle

@ALEC_states  – ALEC’s Twitter handle

@ALECexposed – the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed Twitter handle

tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago – the link to the August 8th Chicago protest

 

Sample Tweets

 Check out this activist toolkit for taking on #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed blog.pfaw.org/issues/ALEC

 Don’t want #ALECinChicago? Show up Aug 8, 12 PM at the Palmer Hilton to protest #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states of the corporations, for the corporations, by the corporations #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states wants #ClimateChange denial to be taught in public schools #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states wants #ClimateChange denial to be taught in public schools #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @StateLawmakerX is heading to Chicago to wine and dine with ALEC and ALEC corps? #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 

Submitting Letters to the Editor:

Writing a Letter To the Editor (LTE) is an effective way of raising awareness on an issue.  The following tips and “talking points” will guide you through your ALEC LTE submission. 

 

LTE Submission Logistics

- As a rule of thumb, you will want to keep your LTE under 200 words.  However, be sure to find out the LTE guidelines of the paper[s] you are submitting to beforehand to double-check that 200 words is an acceptable length – generally, guidelines are posted online, however you can also find out by calling the newspaper’s office.

- Do not feel obligated to only submit LTE’s to large newspapers.  Your local paper is a great place to start the discussion.  At the same time, do not feel hesitant to submit to bigger papers even if the chances of acceptance are slimmer.

- To increase your chances of acceptance, submit your letter using two methods – standard mail and email.  Writing your letter by hand or printing out your letter and then sending it via the mail shows that you have been intentional about your submission and that you really care about the issue.  At the same time, sending your letter via email offers Newspaper Editors – who are already pressed for time and content – a quick way to get material into their publication.  So if you have the time, please submit using both methods, and acknowledge in both that you are doing so.

- Be sure to include your contact information in your submission.  Many newspapers will require their employees to contact an LTE submitter before publication.  If you do not feel comfortable sharing your information publicly in the newspaper print, be sure to specify that stipulation at the bottom of your letter.

 

What To Write About

- Provide background information on what ALEC is, and what ALEC the agenda is all about.  Keep in mind your audience will most likely have never heard of ALEC before, so your LTE should primarily be educational. For information on ALEC and the ALEC agenda, see the Talking Points section below.

- Try to identify a target for your LTE.  This could be a particular ALEC lawmaker or an ALEC corporation.  By identifying a local target, you can make your LTE relevant to your community.

o   To find out which members of your state legislature are in ALEC, cross check these two lists here and here; come up with your own list of ALEC public officials of local interest; and call their offices to see if they are attending the Chicago event and/or if they support the organization. Please note that 1) despite much effort, the two lists are incomplete and that 2) some states have stronger ALEC delegations than others.

o   To find out which corporations are ALEC members, click here.  Look for corporations that have a large presence and/or headquarters in your community.

- Identify timely information in your LTE, particularly that:

o   ALEC is having its annual meeting on August 7-9th in Chicago

o   Lawmakers, including ALEC lawmakers in your state, will be traveling to the meeting

o   ALEC will also be celebrating its 40th year of existence

- Conclude with an opinion and/or call to action, possibly something along the lines of:

o   Asking why State Senator/Representative X cares more about the interests of ALEC’s corporate backers, and not her/his constituents

o   Identifying the problem of corporate power in American democracy

o   Calling for real democracy in America, not ALEC pay-to-play politics

 

After Submitting Your LTE

- If your LTE has been printed, PLEASE let us know.  We’ll work to amplify your message and will make sure your public officials see it.

- If your LTE is not accepted, do not be deterred.  There are many way you can contribute to the movement.  A quick way you can make sure your hard work does not go to waste is by repurposing what you wrote and mailing it in to your state representative and state senator.

If you have any questions about the process or content of your LTE, feel free to reach out to us by emailing Calvin Sloan at csloan@pfaw.org.

 

Talking Points

ALEC background info

- The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization that connects corporate lobbyists with state legislators to pass special interest legislation in all fifty states.  The organization has roughly 2,000 legislative members and 300 corporate members, and has been called by Bill Moyers the “most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of.”

- ALEC operates behind closed doors, and is almost exclusively funded by corporations, corporate trade associations, corporate foundations, and sources other than membership dues.

- Most of ALEC’s model bills are written by corporate lawyers, and all of them are pre-approved by corporate lobbyists in ALEC Task Force meetings before becoming ALEC model policy.  ALEC model bills are distributed to ALEC lawmakers, who introduce the legislation in statehouse across the country without disclosing their source. 

- ALEC is a registered 501c3 charity, and thus ALEC’s corporate donors receive tax deductions for their contributions to the organization.

- To date, 49 corporations, 6 non-profits, and 74 state legislators have publicly cut ties with ALEC.

 

ALEC in Chicago

- On August 7-9th, ALEC is holding its annual meeting in Chicago, IL.  State lawmakers from across the country will be flying into Chicago for three days of wining and dining with corporate lobbyists.  The organization will also be celebrating its 40th year of existence.

-  In Chicago, ALEC lawmakers will receive corporate-written ALEC model legislation to introduce in their respective states, along with tips on what messaging and PR tactics are the most effective in getting that legislation passed.

 

ALEC On The Issues

For more information on the ALEC agenda, please check out the Center For Media and Democracy's ALEC Fact Sheets

On Education

- Climate denial – ALEC has supported "Environmental Literacy Improvement Acts" which would require the teaching of climate denial in public schools as a valid scientific theory. This model bill has been passed in three states, and introduced in seven; with many of ALEC's corporate constituents involved in the fossil fuel sector, the payoff for public skepticism of global warming is clear.

- Privatizing education – ALEC has supported an army of measures to privatize education, including various voucher programs, private school subsidies through parental tax credits, and ideologically contrived evaluations of public schools.

- Virtual schools – ALEC's model bill, "Virtual Public Schools Act", extends state recognition to virtual schools as equivalent to physical public schools, and unreasonably offers for-profit online providers the same per pupil revenue allocation as brick and mortar schools. Educational experts generally regard the value of virtual schools to children with suspicion, and for-profit virtual school companies, which operate for a fraction of the cost of physical schools, comprise a part of ALEC's constituency. 

- Attacking teachers’ unions – ALEC has attacked teachers' right to unionize through prohibiting compensation of time spent on union activities as release time, through requiring teacher unions to disclose how much union staff are being paid, and through pushing a panoply of anti-collective bargaining bills that affect all levels of private and public sector employment.

 

On Healthcare

- Obstructing the Affordable Care Act ALEC has led efforts to resist implementation of state healthcare exchanges, as well as to pass amendments and bills directly contradicting the individual mandate, setting up 10th Amendment court challenges.

- Privatizing Medicare and Medicaid ALEC has led privatization efforts with model bills providing a small cash allowance to disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and Children's Health Insurance Program recipients to purchase private care, as well as with resolutions to urge Congress to directly privatize the programs.

- Minimizing overall provision of careALEC has advocated for bills that would eliminate all state-funded medical assistance not federally required, as well as bills which would require actuarial review of proposals for any new benefits.

 

On the Middle Class and Workers’ Rights

- Right-to-work – ALEC has led the national push for so-called right-to-work legislation, which hurts unions by prohibiting mandatory collection of dues. Right-to-work legislation most recently passed in Michigan, and along with other ALEC measures like prohibiting payroll deduction to collect dues, comprises the thrust of ALEC’s anti-union, pro-corporate campaign.

- No paid sick days – ALEC has organized efforts across the nation to align corporate interests against paid sick days, with bills passed in Wisconsin and Louisiana, and bills introduced in Florida, Washington, Mississippi, Michigan, Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Studies show a lack of access to paid sick days forces workers to go to work sick, risking both their own and co-workers' health.

- Minimizing wages ALEC has led national efforts to freeze or repeal minimum wage and prevailing wage laws. Minimum wages in many states are so minimal that many residents are forced to work multiple jobs; prevailing wages are those standardly paid by the government in a given field, in accordance with regular payments in the local industry. They are also sometimes called “union wages,” and are typically substantially above minimum wage.

 

ALEC on Taxes and Privatization

- Repeal of capital gains tax ALEC has advocated for the repeal of capital gains taxes. Since three-quarters of all capital gains go to the top one percent of the income distribution, the measure is quite clearly another way to exacerbate the inequality in the nation’s distribution of income and wealth.

-  Permanent Extension of Bush tax cuts – ALEC pushed for making the Bush tax cuts, which largely benefited the wealthy while ballooning the deficit, permanent.

- Repeal of estate tax – ALEC has supported a repeal of the gift and estate taxes, which together tax the giving and inheritance of large sums of money. By securing the fortunes of the rich and powerful, their repeal would substantially increase the rigidity of national wealth inequalities across generations.

- Public spending limitations – ALEC has also supported legislation to limit all public spending increases to the rate of inflation, or by capping revenue to existing levels, or by automatically reducing taxes if revenue rises.

- Other tax policy favoring the rich – ALEC has passed resolutions against "windfall profits" taxes on oil companies, pushed for single, flat-rate business taxes, and led efforts to require super-majorities for tax increases. The last has contributed to California’s budget difficulties, and has also passed in Wisconsin under Scott Walker.

 

ALEC on Democracy

- Voter ID requirements – ALEC was a driving force behind the post-2010 push for Voter ID and other undemocratic measures that made it substantially harder for roughly 5 million Americans to vote in the 2012 election. In June, the US Supreme Court struck down a burdensome, ALEC-endorsed Arizona statue that required “proof of citizenship” for voter registration, and that was subsequently passed, with ALEC’s support, in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas.

- Citizens United and money in politics – ALEC has supported the Citizens United decision and opposes federal, state, and local level efforts to mitigate its impact via disclosure and disclaimer requirements.  Thus, ALEC supports the use of limitless, corporate “dark money” spending in elections.

-  Partisan politicsAs recently as March of 2013, Republican National Committee (RNC) called upon ALEC to help develop and implement model legislation to dismantle campaign finance reform in order to help revive the Republican party through abolishing campaign spending regulations and contribution limits.

 

ALEC on Consumer Rights

- Withholding consumer finance information – ALEC opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The CFPB promotes financial education for consumers; monitors markets for new risks; restricts unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices that affect consumers; and enforces federal consumer financial protection laws.

-Service charges and interest rates – ALEC has opposed government imposed caps or elimination of ATM service charges on the baseless basis that it violates the principles of free enterprise. ALEC has also opposed caps on credit card interest rates on the basis that it violates the principles of free enterprise. Setting a ceiling on credit card interest rates would protect consumers from sky-high interest rates that could leave them bankrupt.

- Tort Reform – ALEC supports a drove of bills that seek to alter the tort liability system to make it substantially harder – or at times, entirely impossible – for consumers to challenge corporations in court and receive just compensation for corporate malfeasance.

 

ALEC on Guns, Crime, and Prisons

-Stand Your Ground – ALEC adopted and propagated Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gained national notoriety following the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  The law expands the legal definition of “justifiable homicide,” and was lobbied for and partially drafted by the corporate-funded National Rifle Association.

- Deregulation of gun sales – ALEC has opposed efforts to allow law enforcement to use their purchasing power to pursue public safety ends, specifically requiring a pledge from gun manufacturers that they will not market weapons for dangerous uses (such as “cop killer” guns or bullets).

- Prison privatization – ALEC has pushed model legislation for decades that privatizes the prison industry and that rewards its for-profit prison private sector members.  Private prison companies, unlike state providers, have a financial incentive in “filling beds,” and have utilized ALEC to lobby for the incarceration of migrant workers, for lengthening prison sentencing, and for selling off state run facilities to the private sector.

- Minimum mandatory sentencing – ALEC has advocated for minimum mandatory incarceration sentences for drug offenses, with the severity of these sentences depending on the type and amount of the drug in question and not on whether the case involved the possession and manufacture, sale or distribution of the drugs.

 

ALEC on Energy and The Environment

- Keystone XL Pipeline, the Alberta tar sands, and the oil lobby – ALEC lawmakers have passed ALEC’s “Resolution in Support of Keystone Pipeline” in at least four states since ALEC adopted the resolution in December 2011.  ALEC also facilitated a trip funded by Transcanada, Shell Oil, and other oil-industry players for ALEC lawmakers to visit the Alberta tar sands, the source of the Keystone XL heavy oil.  ALEC later encouraged the legislators to email and thank their corporate sponsors for paying for the trip.

- Renewable energy – ALEC has adopted legislation known as the Electricity Freedom Act that would repeal mandates that electric distribution utilities and electric service companies procure electricity from renewable energy resources.

- Carbon emission deregulation – ALEC has adopted a “model” bill from an oil-industry lobby group that would limit the ability of states to negotiate regional “low-carbon fuel standards.” Low-carbon fuel standards would have a significant impact on the sale of fuels derived from the Alberta tar sands and other “heavy oil” fields.

- EPA deregulationALEC has resolved to oppose the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision which held that the EPA has statutory authority to regulate air pollutants from vehicles that “endanger public health and welfare.” The resolution uses unfounded statistics and flimsy rhetoric to dismiss climate change concerns.

 

Further Reading and Acknowledgments

People For the American Way is indebted to the Center For Media and Democracy for maintaining ALECexposed.org and PRWatch.org.  Both websites provide up-to-date analysis of ALEC, and are integral to exposing it.

 

 

Gay Marriage Violates the Separation of Church and State, Apparently

On Wallbuilders Live today, David Barton and Rick Green hosted Baptist pastor Danny Holliday, who was active in the campaign to block marriage equality legislation in the Illinois legislature. Green kicked off the show by comparing Holliday’s anti-gay activism to John Adams’ push for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence: “He was like John Adams at the Continental Congress, the guy behind the scenes that was working day and night to make sure we got the Declaration of Independence.”

Barton also wanted people to know that there is nothing “gay” about being gay.

“I’m not going to call it gay marriage; it’s homosexual marriage,” Barton pointed out. “Our friend Ken Hutcherson says he’s the gayest guy he knows because he’s not going to give the word gay up to homosexuals; gay means happy, bright and cheerful and that’s not what homosexuality is.”

Holliday told the hosts that marriage equality for gays and lesbians violates the separation of church and state. Under his Barton-esque view, Holliday said the separation of church and state actually means that the government has “no right to disregard what God says” about marriage or other issues.

It’s not about the character or integrity of people who are gay, it’s not about them. The issue is God defined marriage and since our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence and the oath of office in the state of Illinois recognize almighty God, then we have no right to disregard what God says about the institution of marriage. They don’t have a right to step beyond the veil, that separation of church and state, because it is God who gives us religious freedom and not the state.
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