* Equality Illinois PAC’s account balance at the end of March was just $17K. So, they have a very long way to go before they can bank this kind of dough. But there is big money out there, as the spring session demonstrated.
From a press release…
Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization, today announced a half-million dollar FIGHT BACK FOR MARRIAGE campaign leading to the 2014 election.
Equality Illinois (EQIL) has pledged to use half of the fund toward an educational campaign focusing on the collar counties, Downstate areas and Chicago neighborhoods where there is a need to strengthen the advocacy for and defense of the freedom to marry.
The organization’s political action arm, Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (EQIL PAC), has pledged the other $250,000 in order to match marriage opponents dollar-for-dollar on the political battlefield. […]
The $250,000 political action piece of the Fight Back for Marriage plan, though formidable, is a target set to directly confront an opponent of LGBT equality, the so-called National Organization for Marriage, which threatened to spend $250,000 to oppose particularly Republican legislators who supported the freedom to marry.
“We will defend those candidates who demonstrate a dedication to the freedom to marry through their votes and campaign commitments,” said Jeremy Gottschalk, chair of Equality Illinois PAC board of directors. “And we will ensure that those who stand in the way of marriage equality are held accountable to the voters. No opponents of marriage equality can be sure that their re-election campaigns will be easy next year.”
EQIL PAC has a strong history of success at the ballot box and expects to be even more successful in 2014 in helping our allies and confronting our opponents. In last November’s election, 69 of Equality Illinois PAC’s 82 endorsed candidates were elected (including 26 of the 39 EQIL PAC-endorsed candidates involved in competitive races), for a success rate of 84%.
Equality Illinois’ reinvigorated educational and advocacy campaign for the marriage bill, funded by the other $250,000 of the Fight Back for Marriage campaign, is already underway after the Illinois House of Representatives failed in its responsibility to vote and pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act by May 31.
Once the law passes, as we are confident it will, we must educate public officials and the public how the law works and defend it against expected attacks. There are likely to be attempts to weaken it or challenge it in the courts. Already, there is legislation introduced for a state constitutional amendment seeking to define marriage only as between a man and a woman.
Also, the educational arm will inform voters about the incumbents and their challengers. “We will be aggressive in both arms of the Fight Back for Marriage campaign,” Cherkasov said. “We have to let the voters know which lawmakers support the right of all couples to marry and raise families under the recognition and protection of marriage and which senators and representatives stand on the wrong side of history.”
Nervous House members will probably be grateful for this PAC if, indeed, the group can raise the money.
However, taking credit for all those wins just isn’t credible. The PAC spent just $53K in the last quarter of 2012 and only $1,200 in the quarter before that.
* Meanwhile, if you’re gonna protest the Speaker, maybe you should get yourself better organized…
About 18 people attended the rainy mid-day protest, held outside of Madigan’s district office in Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood. The demonstration intended put heat on Madigan after the Illinois House adjourned without voting on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage May 31. LGBTs have partially blamed Madigan, stating that the speaker did not use his power to influence support within the Democratic Caucus.
“The notion that state reps. vote their conscience is as ludicrous as saying most Chicago aldermen vote their conscience,” said Gay Liberation Network co-founder Andy Thayer. “Mike Madigan put his finger to the wind and decided that the anti-gay bigots are more mobilized.”
That’s truly pathetic.
*** UPDATE *** From Mitch Locin at Equality Illinois…
Thank you for the coverage of our release in your blog this morning. I wanted to add two things for your consideration:
1. Juxtaposing our news item with the one on the protest in front of the office of Speaker Madigan may have left an impression that Equality Illinois was connected to that protest. The protest was not Equality Illinois’ event.
2. Just to put the $250,000 PAC goal in some greater perspective, Equality Illinois PAC directly contributed $127,000 during the 2012 election cycle in addition to other expenditures, which was an increase of over 100% from the previous cycle. Our goal, therefore, is to double our capacity yet again in the 2014 cycle and have an even greater impact.