EQIL Spends $600,000 Helping Candidates and Passing Marriage Bill

Equality Illinois Spends $600,000 Helping Candidates and Passing Marriage Bill

Effort exceeds $500,000 goal for Fight Back for Marriage campaign

CHICAGO (October 29, 2014) – Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, is wrapping up its Fight Back For Marriage campaign, spending over $610,000 to pass marriage equality legislation and to defend pro-marriage political leaders.

With the General Election fast approaching, Equality Illinois is in the final stages of its effort to re-elect pro-equality candidates, which includes direct contributions in top-tier races, electorate education, and a massive get-out-the-vote effort.

“It’s been clear from the beginning of our effort that an unequivocal majority of Illinoisans support LGBT equality, and our task was to amplify their voices and not cede to our opponents just because of their financial advantage,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

After the Illinois House failed to pass the marriage bill in May 2013, Equality Illinois announced its Fight Back for Marriage campaign, making the commitment to spend $500,000 by the November 2014 election in the face of threats from marriage opponents to defeat the bill and oust the legislators who supported it.

By the end of the 2014 election cycle, the organization will have spent over $610,000, including:

  • Over $150,000 in direct contributions to candidates by the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee, the political arm of Equality Illinois,
  • Nearly $100,000 in a sophisticated information campaign to educate the electorate, and
  • An unprecedented targeted get-out-the-vote effort, with more than 400 Equality Illinois PAC volunteers making more than 60,000 persuasion, identification, or turn-out phone calls in support of Gov. Pat Quinn and other LGBT-supportive candidates.

“Winning marriage and defending our pro-equality public servants was a mass effort, and our supporters participated in record numbers. Their conviction and passion allowed us to be victorious in our dream to pass the freedom to marry in Illinois, and it’s given us the resources we need to support the people who supported us,” Cherkasov said. “The willingness of the LGBT community and our allies throughout Illinois to step up and be counted in this important fight through their donations and hard work made it all possible.”

Equality Illinois was among the first and most effective social justice organizations to go after Bruce Rauner, exposing his anti-marriage equality agenda. The organization’s information campaign, including a 400-square foot banner on the Chicago Pride Parade route last summer, haunted Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor, from June through October, forcing him to account for his prior pledge to veto the marriage bill and to run ads nuancing his position.

During the legislative marriage campaign, Equality Illinois opened two field offices in Westmont and Springfield, from which it ran a coordinated grassroots effort mobilizing diverse clergy and houses of worship, enlisting major corporations and business executives, and recruiting allies from across the state. Equality Illinois also was a co-founder and major funder of the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition and acted as the financial arm of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality. Equality Illinois staff and lobbyists worked aggressively to help build the legislative majorities for the marriage bill in the Illinois House and Senate.

“We are pleased to give this accounting, especially for those who worked so hard on this issue,” Cherkasov said. “And to opponents who will still try to weaken the marriage law through seeking exemptions or otherwise resist our ongoing struggle to build a better Illinois by advancing equal treatment and social justice, this is a warning that we will not be outgunned in the political battlefield.”

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