CHICAGO (CBS) — Just days after state lawmakers introduced legislation to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network led a demonstration outside Holy Name Cathedral Sunday morning.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports, protesters were holding up signs accusing Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, of being the city’s “arch bigot.”READ MORE: 'An Important Time For Us': Chicagoans Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
“People may not like to hear that word, but when you oppose equal employment rights, equal housing rights and equal health care rights and equal marriage rights, you are by definition a bigot,” said Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports
Thayer applauded the enactment last year of legislation legalizing civil unions for same sex couples in Illinois, “but we want full marriage rights. We don’t want separate drinking fountains for our community. We want full marriage rights.”
State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) this past Wednesday introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, H.B. 5170, with co-sponsor Reps. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) and Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) signing on. The bill would provideREAD MORE: Downtown Chicago Roadblocks Quell Mexican Independence Day Street Celebrations
The proposed legislation declares that “all laws of this State applicable to marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children; parties to a marriage and their children, regardless of whether the marriage is of a same-sex or different-sex couple, have the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law.”
Gay rights activists staged the demonstration outside Holy Name to draw attention to the Catholic Church’s opposition to same sex marriages.
Across the sidewalk, Peter LaBarbera, president of the anti-gay organization Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, led a small counter protest.
“I believe most Catholics still oppose same sex marriage, but the point is Cardinal George stands up for the Catholic Church teachings; and they are trying to intimidate him by showing up on a Sunday morning with very hateful signs, calling him ‘arch bigot,’” LaBarbera said. “I think it’s pretty unseemly for people who just want to go to church have to walk through a protest, reading these signs that are accusing Cardinal George of being an ‘arch bigot.’”MORE NEWS: 'We're Back': Store Owner Reopens Chicago Sports On Michigan Avenue After 2020 Unrest
LaBarbera said it’s harsh words like “bigot” that make the Gay Liberation Network seem like what they claim to oppose: hateful.