Illinois Primary Advances Equality

CHICAGO (March 19, 2014) – Illinoisans who believe in fairness and equality secured a decisive victory in Tuesday’s primary with a substantial boost by the efforts of Equality Illinois.

Not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who voted for the freedom to marry lost due to support of the marriage bill.

“We put up a historic fight to defend our historic legislative gains. We rallied our allies and took on pretty powerful opponents, but we had to demonstrate that the LGBT community will stand up for those who stand up for us.” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

“Overwhelmingly, voters nominated candidates who supported the freedom to marry last year and who will help advance LGBT equality in the future.”

For the primary election, the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee spent an unprecedented $150,000, including $130,000 in direct contributions to candidates, and built an aggressive voter persuasion and get-out-the vote effort that targeted high-priority districts.

The effort allowed the EQIL PAC to employ smart, modern, well-resourced tactics to successfully stand up to entrenched interests and, in some cases, a nationally funded campaign of bigotry.

In races like state Rep. Ron Sandack’s, who won with a margin of 150 votes and whose primary challenger made Sandack’s vote for the marriage bill the focus in the race, Equality Illinois phone banks made over 3,000 dials to constituents and turned out more than 300 votes.

This historic election win signaled the same determination that Equality Illinois, the LGBT community and our allies demonstrated in the battle over the marriage bill to stand up and defend our rights, and it bodes well for further advancing LGBT equality in Illinois.

“The primary victories guarantee that the issues important to LGBT voters, our allies and fair-minded Illinoisans will be well-represented in the fall campaign. Now we must build on our efforts and work even harder to ensure that Illinois remains a pro-equality state after the Nov. 4 general election,” Cherkasov said. “This is no time to let down our guard in the belief that our hard-fought victories and future advancement are guaranteed.”

“The primary campaign gave us the first chance to show the strength of the LGBT equality movement and our allies after the marriage vote. We will redouble our efforts to ensure that the general election is just as successful,” Cherkasov said.

“No opponent should doubt our commitment and the commitment of LGBT voters and our allies to do what is needed to defeat any attempt to turn back the clock on equality.”

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