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Illinois Same Sex Marriage Town Hall Turns To Chaos: “Our religion is being attacked!”

We’ve written before about the thinly disguised bigotry of Democratic State Rep. Rita Mayfield, of Waukegan, Illinois.

Last September Mayfield stated that she would not vote for same-sex-marriage in Illionois because her data indicated that her constituents didn’t support legalizing gay marriage.   Also Mayfield has stated she personally she has “mixed emotions” about gay marriage and notes that members and leaders of her church — the New Way of Life Church of God in Christ  — disapproves of “that lifestyle.”

“We do not allow those types of behaviors in our church at all.  Not that you can’t come there, but if you do you’re not going to be blatant. What you do at home needs to stay at home.

At the behest of Chicago-based Equality Illinois Mayfield set up a town hall about same sex marriage that  an estimated crowd of 150  people, many of whom arrived aboard a church bus that declared in big painted letters on its side: “Say no to same-sex marriage”  (Surprised?)

Ashley Harrel, a staff member with Church of Joy, Zion, demanded the crowd consider the impact of same-sex marriage on the family, arguing it would confuse gender roles. “This is a strategic effort  (that) will not only infiltrate the churches, but indoctrinate our schools, and corrupt the values of the family,” she said to loud applause. “We’re not only concerned within the four walls of our church, but with the safety of the family structure and what’s happening in our street.”

Khadine Bennett of the ACLU attended Mayfield’s meeting to explain the bill, which offers same-sex couples the full rights, benefits and responsibilities, Bennett said, of civil marriage.

When Bennett argued the bill would ensure that same-sex couples have access to Social Security and military benefits, members of the audience began shouting “Our values, our morals, our religion is being attacked!”

“I made a pledge that I would always listen to constituents,” Mayfield said. “Yes, I am the representative of the 60th District, but I believe in the will of the people. It’s not about what Rita wants. It’s about what the district wants.”

Ilya Sheyman of Waukegan, a same-sex marriage supporter who did attend the meeting reminded Mayfield and the crowd that in 1967, the Supreme Court went against popular opinion in striking down laws that denied intermarriage between racial groups.

“The Supreme Court said marriage is a civil right,” Sheyman said to applause of few same-sex supporters scattered through the audience. “If that’s so, even if a majority doesn’t agree with it, you should vote in favor.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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