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*** UPDATED x2 - Rep. Eddy responds - Equality IL says it received “numerous” media inquiries *** It’s just a bill, except when it isn’t

Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012

* This Channel 5 blog post was apparently labeled as “satire” some time after it was initially posted, labeled as satire right from the beginning, according to blogger Ted McClelland, but it’s silly enough to certainly expect a satirical bent

In response to the gay marriage bill introduced Wednesday by three Chicago legislators, a pair of Downstate representatives are pushing their own marriage equality bill.

State Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville, and state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, have introduced the Lonesome No More Act, which would guarantee the right to marry to Illinoisans who are unemployed, obese or have terrible personal hygiene.

“Marriage in this country is in crisis,” Phelps said at a state capitol news conference this morning. “Fifty years, almost every American, no matter how poor, hideous or unwashed, was able to find a spouse. Today, marriage has become an elite institution, available only to those with the financial resources to maintain a household. The American Dream of marriage has been disappearing as quickly as the American Dream of a steady, well-paying job.” […]

“The average household income of a gay couple is $85,000 a year,” Phelps said. “The average household income in Gays, Illinois, is $41,000 a year. I’ve been to Lake View. It’s a wonderful neighborhood with easy access to public transportation, health clubs, employment opportunities and hair salons. It’s easy to be rich and good looking in Lake View. It’s not as easy in Harrisburg or Cairo, but people there deserve a chance to get married, too.”

* Um, OK. I’m not sure what the point of all that was, but a gay rights group called The Civil Rights Agenda quickly pounced via press release…

“Well, it is a great day when two downstate Republicans would agree that we should have marriage equality in Illinois,” said Lowell Jaffe, political and policy director for The Civil Rights Agenda. “As Representative Eddy stated, all people in Harrisburg or Cairo deserve a chance to be married. We agree wholeheartedly, and would add that it is especially important for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of Cairo, Harrisburg or any downstate community, who right now do not have the right to marry. We would like to invite both of Representatives Eddy and Phelps to become Chief Co-sponsors of the marriage equality legislation, and they should see the clerk of the House to be added.”

“I have seen political grandstanding before, but this is definitely a new level,” stated Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is a common misconception that gay people in Illinois only live in the Northside of Chicago. We at The Civil Rights Agenda have made it part of our vision for Illinois to change that perception, which is why we testified at the legislative redistricting hearings this past fall, and presented our Illinois LGBT Population Density Map, based on our database of over 150,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. What we found when creating this map is that the LGBT community in Illinois is everywhere throughout the entire State.

“I would like to know where Rep. Phelps is getting his income data from, because the Census does not include lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks so there is no source that can truly state these numbers he quotes as fact. We work with a number of LGBT folks throughout the state that are homeless, jobless, low-income and just struggling to make it, just like straight people. Through our Workplace Discrimination Project we constantly work with folks who were fired or discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these folks are low-income or unemployed and we help to provide free or low-cost legal services. This is especially true of the LGBT folks we work with downstate.”

* A couple of minor corrections were subsequently issued and David Ormsby tried to find out what was going on

At 5:59 p.m., this blogger, after reviewing Eddy and Phelp’s on-line, legislation sponsorship list and finding no-such legislation and after conducting a Google search that revealed no other reporting on the ‘press conference’ during the day, e-mailed Martinez a link to McClelland’s piece, with the satire warning label included, and asked if the group was responding to the NBC Chicago post and if had he a number for the “introduced” bill?

Martinez’s response was curt: “The sponsors had a press conference today in Springfield. The bill has not been filed as of yet. Please let me know if you have any other questions.”

This blogger had no other questions. Dinner, not a satire sand trap, beckoned.

In the following hours, despite the satire warning in place, Martinez issued two “correction” press releases backing peddling on the bill “introduction” claim but still peddling the group’s criticism of Eddy and Phelps’ ‘press conference’.

* Finally, two hours after the initial press release was sent out, a full retraction appeared in my in-box…

Whoops! Things have been extremely busy in terms of legislation and the LGBT community in Illinois this week. We also have been fighting some pretty extreme and discriminatory legislation and attacks against the LGBT community in Illinois. Unfortunately, legislation like the “Lonesome No More” Act is real for the LGBT community across the United States, such as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in Tennessee.

We were tipped off by a Springfield resident that thought this was real, and stated to us that they were in attendance at the press conference. We realize now that the below article is satire, and will ensure that we triple check our sources in the future.

* Ormsby is a PR guy by trade, and this was his conclusion

An assortment of single, professional public relations reality checks should have applied the breaks on the group’s first press release. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, the group compounded its public relations goof by failing to offer an official apology to Eddy and Phelps in its “retraction”.

There is still time for another press release “correction.”


*** UPDATE 1 *** Too funny. From a press release…

Equality Illinois has received numerous media inquiries regarding an obviously satirical column by NBC5 Ward Room Blogger Edward McClelland about a fictitious marriage equality bill, the “Lonesome No More Act” for the unemployed, the obese and those with terrible personal hygiene, supposedly introduced in Springfield by state Rep. Roger Eddy and state Rep. Brandon Phelps.

Equality Illinois has made no comment regarding the column.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Roger Eddy’s response…

“This blogger crossed the line when he used fictitious quotes attributed to several legislators,” Eddy said. “This blog post is false, irresponsible journalism. The legislation described in the post does not exist. There is no such legislation and the supposed press conference never happened.”

Representative Eddy reaffirmed his commitment to traditional family values.

“I am a conservative who strongly supports traditional family values,” Eddy said. “I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. My wife Becca and I have been married for 31 years and we have five wonderful children. I oppose gay marriage and I voted against the Civil Unions Law. I will continue to stand up for downstate families in defense of our shared conservative values.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - South of Sherman - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    Will some other pundit then take Ormsby to task for not knowing that one does not “apply the breaks” in such a situation, but rather applies the brakes?

  2. - Burning Down da House - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    Talk about inappropriate, excessively rabid comments, gratuitous insults and the like…this is an exhibition of upstate snobbery all the way around.

  3. - cover - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 12:55 pm:

    The original post should have continued the comparison between gays and Gays. The most notable attraction in the village of Gays is the two-story outhouse.

  4. - John Danks Fan - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    The Civil Rights Agenda should have obviously held their fire, but McClelland could have done everyone a favor by not using Roger and Brandon’s name and instead kept it more generic if he was going for satire.

  5. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    “two downstate Republicans”?

  6. - Alex - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:09 pm:

    As Komen learned, there are issues where some groups are infallible and they’ll do what they can to destroy your right to voice/have an opinion.

  7. - TCB - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    This reads like an Onion article. You’d think that the folks at The Civil Rights Agenda would know better than to fall for something like this.

  8. - J - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:15 pm:

    I’m not a fan of Ted McClelland. He only writes 2 kinds of pieces unfunny satire pieces, and his knee-jerk responses to recent events.

    That being said, he does label his satire pieces clearly, so The Civil Rights Agenda looks pretty dumb right about now.

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:21 pm:

    Stay Classy

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    Why is a news channel doing satirical pieces? Do they have the news covered tight as a drum and have resources to devote to satire?

    What did Phelps and Eddy do to deserve such generosity?

  11. - JoeVerdeal - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    If I understand this whole thing correctly, Phelps and Eddy did not make any of the statements that they are quoted by this “news outlet” as having said.

    I am not an attorney and because of this, I am wondering what recourse these two individuals might have against NBC Chicago and Edward McClelland…??? Seems to be very intentional malicious defamation.

    Also seems to be an attack against a part of Illinois that is populated by people who are much more mannerly than those who make such statements.

  12. - TCB - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:59 pm:


    They probably have very litte recourse given that the “news piece” was apparently clearly labelled as a satirical piece.

    However, I’d think that the fellas are, at the very least, owed an apology by The Civil Rights Agenda……they clearly didn’t do their homework & were pretty rough on Phelps/Eddy.

  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    –I am not an attorney and because of this, I am wondering what recourse these two individuals might have against NBC Chicago and Edward McClelland…??? Seems to be very intentional malicious defamation.–

    Satire of public figures obviously is protected speech. You’ve seen editorial cartoons, SNL, The Onion, etc.

  14. - Shock & Awww(e) - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 2:18 pm:

    Labeled as satirical or not, McClelland’s piece is more apropo of a personal blog or even The Onion (if it were funnier), not an official NBC web page.

    As for The Civil Rights Agenda’s behavior? Clownish.

    A satirical piece about specific Chicago Democrats opposing gay marriage, quickly followed by obnoxious press releases from a right-leaning organization who refused to apologize, would draw more contempt and ire than you can shake a stick at.

    The fusillade of mockery would be merciless.

    McClelland, for one, would rapidly post another NBC entry ripping the group a new one for being so dense while other bloggers and commenters had a field day. In this case? Not exactly.

    Respect to Rich for his equal opportunity approach in pointing out such inane behavior.

    At least until TCRG posts a correction to their corrected correction.

  15. - In_The_Middle - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    YIPPEEE!!.. I’m a lonely, ugly, gay fat man. Now, with this bill I can get married to the hunk of my dreams.

  16. - Aldyth - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 3:27 pm:

    April Fools has arrived early.

  17. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    1st Cop - “Do they know what killed ‘im?”

    2nd Cop - “Can’t get ahold of the ME but the paramedic said he was having palpitations and muttering something about lonesome no more and no time to get to Cairo.”

  18. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 3:33 pm:

    Sorry wrong post lol

  19. - Brendan Dickus - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 3:45 pm:

    The Civil Rights Agenda’s amateur-ish flub should come as no surprise to anyone. The “organization” is not beholden to the LGBT community - it is beholden to former-U.S. Senate candidate Jacob Meister. It simply serves as a political networking vehicle for him as he plots his next failed attempt for elective office.

  20. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 3:49 pm:

    Brandon Phelps is a Democrat, not a Republican. Also, he really does represent all 600 or so people in Equality, Illinois, but probably very few of the people of group Equality Illinois.

  21. - Responsa - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 4:10 pm:

    Oh brother. What a complete cluster**** this is. The phrase “too clever by half” comes to mind.


  22. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 6:21 pm:

    That Jaffe household is seriously humor impaired.

  23. - David Ormsby - Tuesday, Feb 14, 12 @ 10:12 pm:

    Well, Rep. Eddy’s statement reveals that someone else fails to grasp the concept of satire. Does 31 years of marriage dent one’s sense of humour? Sheesh.

  24. - Esquire - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:28 am:

    If April Fool’s Day arrive a month and a half early, is Winter over? What did the Groundhog see?

  25. - The Agenda? - Thursday, Feb 16, 12 @ 11:55 am:

    This is yet another example of The Civil Rights Agenda putting its foot in its mouth. As a group, they are consistently off-message, even if well intentioned. They take credit for anything happening in Illinois, even if all they did was send Anthony Martinez to Springfield and have him write a press release. It’s sad when any journalist goes to them for a quote on a current LGBT issue, as they only represent about 3 people, not the community.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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