In many of the states that have waged marriage equality fights recently, opponents have often coalesced around a coalition consisting of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the state’s Catholic conference, and the state’s “family policy council” affiliate of the Family Research Council. In Illinois, however, these typical players have not united in the same way, seemingly in part because the state social conservative group is the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a hate group in its own right associated with the American Family Association.
IFI’s rhetoric is quite a bit more brazen than what anti-gay groups have used in other states, which may have scared away its would-be allies.
Today marks three months since the Illinois Senate passed the marriage equality bill, and with only three weeks left for the House to pass it, here’s a look at some of IFI’s rhetoric that is dominating the opposition:
- Today, IFI posted numerous photos from its rally this weekend, including a sign that reads, “The crime against nature will never be equal.”
- Speakers at the rally included ex-gay advocate Linda Jernigan and another hate group leader, Peter LaBarbera, who told the crowd that homosexuality is “unnatural and wrong,” citing HIV rates among men who have sex with men as evidence of “the dangers of homosexuality.”
- In February, IFI’s Laurie Higgins wrote that gay people shouldn’t even be allowed to teach because they’ll put pictures of their partners on their desk that students will see.
- In fact, IFI believes that parents should pull their children from any classroom that attempts to create a safe environment for LGBT students.
- IFI has claimed gays and lesbians already have equality because they can marry the opposite sex like everyone else; same-sex marriage is thus a demand “to be treated specially.”
This extreme rhetoric extends beyond the talking points conservatives have traditionally used in these fights, which tend to focus on supposed protections for children, gender norms, and the institution of marriage. By openly condemning homosexuality as unnatural and curable through therapy — as well as enabling the bullying of LGBT youth — IFI sets itself apart.