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6 Arrested At Valentine’s Day Same-Sex Marriage Protest

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Six people arrested on Valentine’s Day during a gay rights demonstration at a Cook County marriage license office downtown have a court date — St. Patrick’s Day.

About 10 a.m. Monday, Judy Heithmar and Danelle Wylder, with four supporters, approached the counter at the County Vital Records office in the basement of the Daley Center. They asked for a marriage license, according to Andrea Crain of the gay rights group Join the Impact Chicago, who was with the other supporters but was not arrested.

When they were denied the license, Heithmar and Wylder, as well as the four others at the counter, began reading a list of 1,138 marriage rights at the federal level that are denied to same-sex couples. Heithmar and Wylder “are a real couple,” Crain said, who have been together for a year.

The protesters “blocked lines, blocked the counter, (and) chanted,” Crain said.

County security personnel “at first started out pretty accepting, but as the day wore on, they got fed up,” Crain said. Once two of the protesters went behind the counter, about 3:30 p.m., they were arrested, according to Crain.

The six arrested, all between 22 and 27, “were asked to leave several times because they were disrupting the ability of the state workers to provide service to patrons,” police News Affairs Officer Daniel O’Brien said. “They refused to comply and were arrested.”

They are charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to state-supported land, according to O’Brien.

They were released from the Central District police station around midnight, Crain said. A court date is scheduled for March 17 at West Misdemeanor Court (Br. 43), 3150 W. Flournoy St.

Gay Rights Group Protests At Holy Name Catherdal
In a separate protest attended by about 50 people on Sunday, gay rights supporters picketed Holy Name Cathedral. The protest was sparked by Francis Cardinal George’s lobbying against the state’s civil unions bill.

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network told Gay Chicago Magazine that George and his predecessors have opposed “every single piece of pro-rights legislation that’s ever been proposed for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.”

Organizers said when they previously planned demonstrations outside Holy Name, they were threatened with arrest under a city ordinance that prohibits demonstrations within 150 feet and 30 minutes a religious service in a house of worship, the magazine reported.

But the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional, and in January, city Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said the city would not enforce the ordinance in the Sunday demonstration, the ACLU said.

During debate on the civil unions bill, Cardinal George said, “Everybody has a right to marry, but no one has the right to change the nature of marriage.”

Even though the civil unions bill was not to legalize same-sex marriage, George said in a news release that “the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage.”

The bill went on to pass both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, and Gov. Pat Quinn signed it into law on Jan. 31.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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