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h/t: Joan McCarter at Daily Kos


WASHINGTON — All four Senate Democratic leaders have now signaled that either they will vote against President Barack Obama’s embattled judicial nominee Michael Boggs or they have serious concerns with him.

During a Thursday press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said flatly that he won’t vote for Boggs, given the nominee’s strong record as a social conservative. Reid had suggested on Wednesday that he was leaning no, but he couldn’t have been more clear on Thursday.

"I’m going to oppose him," Reid said. "He’s a person who, in my opinion, is out of the mainstream and I don’t think deserves to be a federal judge."

Boggs, who is up for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, has come under fire for votes he took during his time as a Georgia state legislator. Among other things, he voted to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, to keep the Confederate insignia on the state flag and to pass a measure that would have required doctors who performed abortions to post online their names and the number of abortions they performed.

Asked if he would let Boggs receive a floor vote if he makes it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee — something that is by no means a done deal — Reid said only, “We’ll see.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he too has “real concerns” about Boggs and “several things” raise red flags. He singled out Boggs’ Confederate flag vote and said he wasn’t satisfied with Boggs’ responses on that front during his confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee, of which Durbin is a member.

"His answers really were not very good," Durbin told The Huffington Post, adding that he thinks Boggs’ positions on abortion are "extreme."

Durbin said he still wants to talk to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) before making a final decision. Lewis, who is a civil rights icon, has become a key voice in the debate around Boggs. Asked whether he was looking to Lewis for a way to ease his concerns about Boggs, Durbin emphasized that he’s not looking for a way to support Boggs.

"I’m not asking him to ease my concerns," Durbin said. "I just want his honest opinion."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, told reporters that he has “significant doubts” about Boggs given his record.

"The flag, all these other votes," Schumer said. "I’m weighing it."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference, “is not inclined to support this nomination,” according to her office.

Top Democrats may be piling up the opposition to Boggs, but the White House is standing by its nominee, given that Boggs is part of an all-or-nothing package of judicial nominees to which the president agreed with Georgia’s Republican senators. The White House maintains it had to compromise on Boggs to get other nominees backed by Democrats into the package. And compromise it did: Four of the seven nominees are GOP picks, and only two are black, despite the state’s large black population. The tradeoff, the administration argues, is that long-empty seats can get filled.

But that deal doesn’t apply to anyone else in the Senate, and some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are signaling that they’ll vote against Boggs even making it out of the committee. The Judiciary panel isn’t likely to vote for at least a few weeks.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the committee, said his concerns about Boggs “have only deepened” since his confirmation hearing earlier this week. Blumenthal expressed frustration with Boggs for not providing certain documents to the committee relating to opinions he issued as a Georgia state judge. One such opinion relates to reproductive rights.

"It’s a document I regard as absolutely and irrefutably relevant that so far has not been submitted," Blumenthal said, noting that Boggs already had to submit additional material to the committee in mid-April — and apologized for that — months after he submitted what were supposed to be all documents relevant to his nomination.

"The failure to submit everything relevant the first go-around, having to supplement it on April 10, maybe is excusable," Blumenthal continued. "Another round of documents raises even more substantial questions … questions about competence and integrity."

Boggs’ backers recognize the limits of their deal. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president “of course” supports Democrats voting their conscience on Boggs. On Thursday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) conceded that his agreement with the White House is done.

"Our deal was that the committee would hear all seven of them and the committee would vote whichever way they vote," Isakson told The Huffington Post. "Beyond that, there was no deal."

H/T: Ray Long at Chicago Tribune's Clout Street





Madison County Sheriff:  


IL-13: Take a Democratic Ballot, and vote for Ann Callis. 

IL-Sen: Vote for Dick Durbin. 

Madison County Sheriff: Take a Democratic Ballot and vote for John Lakin.

Nameoki 5 Precinct Committeeman: Vote for me. 

Just shut the fuck up already, Mr. Nugent!


Ted Nugent: Obama is a ‘subhuman mongrel’ and deserves ‘just due punishment’ for treason (via

By David January 22, 2014 9:47 am Conservative rocker Ted Nugent said recently that he wouldn’t rest until President Barack Obama — who he called a “subhuman mongrel” — and of the all “liberal Democrats” had gotten the “just due punishment” that they…


Chicago, IL — Many LGBT Illinoisans will likely remember 2013 mainly as the year marriage equality became a reality for our state. While we have to wait until June for marriage to officially wed, the marriage struggle this year gave our community numerous moments of joy, not to mention a few moments of disappointment. Here are some of’s highlights from the past year.

January: The new year brought tremendous hope to supporters when, on Jan. 4, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. Supporters hope that the vote would take place quickly, but a number of mix-ups mean it has to wait. Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda tells that the anticipated Senate vote simply fell victim to bad timing, adding, “This means we are one step closer.”

February: The Illinois State Senate grants a Valentine’s Day wish to gay and lesbian constituents seeking legal marriage recognition—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passes in the chamber by a vote of 34-21. Senate sponsor Heather Steans says of the legislation, “It’s time we in the General Assembly catch up to our neighbors. We can confidently and proudly vote for this bill today, because voters in the nation and our state understand and endorse this basic tenet of fairness and equality.” Twelve days later, the legislation passes the House Executive Committee in a narrow 6-5 vote.

March: Chief co-sponsor Greg Harris tells Chicago Sun-Times that, “When I call this for a vote, it will pass.”  Throughout the Spring, marriage supporters and organizers line up high-profile help, among them Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as retired Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent. President Obama’s Organizing for Action project also notifies its supporters that it will be partnering with Illinois Unites for Marriage, which is a joint project by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois.

Residents of areas with legislators who are on the fence about SB10 report that they’re receiving robo-calls asking them to tell politicians to vote against the legislation.

April: On April 5, a coalition of about a dozen African American pastors speak in the Loop in favor of the legislation. On April 24, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan pens a supportive editorial in the Chicago Tribune. ”Legal arguments aside, this issue at its heart is about one of the most fundamental decisions we can make — with whom to share our lives,” Madigan says. ”In every community in Illinois, same-sex couples have chosen to join together and, in many instances, to raise families of their own. … They deserve the same rights and responsibilities that civil marriage offers straight couples.”

May: Other states achieving marriage equality, including Rhode Island and Minnesota, heighten the anticipation as legislators return to Springfield. Near the end of the month, advocates say that they have the needed number of votes for SB10 to pass the legislation.

"The votes are, indeed, there," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinoistells ”And I believe the bill is going to pass, but we’ve received no indication yet on when the bill would be called.” 

But on May 31, Harris announces that the vote will not come yet. Fighting back tears, he acknowledges that some colleagues did not have the support of their constituents and asked for more time.

"I have never been sadder to accept such a request," Harris said. He promises that the issue would be re-opened in the veto session in the fall, but adds, "In the meantime, I apologize to the families who were hoping to wake up full and equal citizens."

"I have to say, when you are assured with such certainty that the votes were there for a vote, and then to have one not even take place, was maddening," Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Director James Bennett tells ”[Politicians] should not be able to hide behind not having a vote.” 

In a statement, Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer calls the failure “abject betrayal” and lays blame at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan. ”Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House–if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed.” 

June: Nearly 100 people turn out in the rain for a protest organized by GLN and TCRA at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. Members of the coalition promise that the struggle will take a more active role in decision-making.

"The top donor to the Democratic party hired all of these contract lobbyist, straight white men, who don’t know shit," Rick Garcia tells the crowd of about 100 people. 

Following a controversial editorial in Windy City Times, publisher Tracy Baim and Harris issue a joint statement: “We as a community can work together for the common cause of marriage equality, even if we have differences of opinion on strategy and tactics. We both have a respect for the role that each aspect of the community plays, including elected officials, activists, donors and the media. … We must unite fiercely as a community and focus our efforts on carrying the beacon of hope and equality for all families, and against those who wish to defeat the full promise of America for all her peoples.”

In mid-June, Illinois Unites for Marriage says that it is hiring a full-time campaign manager who would oversee and coordinate the statewide advocacy campaign and would gather additional input from supporters during nine community meetings held over the summer.

July: Illinois Unites hires John Kohlhepp, a union organizer with AFSCME, to be their campaign manager. Keron Blair of Midwest Academy is hired as field director, and Rev. Benjamin Reynolds is to be the coalition’s faith director. The coalition also announces a goal of raising $2 million.

August: Chicago-based Groupon becomes the latest corporation to come out in support of marriage equality in Illinois, with a YouTube video that announces, “We are Groupon and we are proud of being part of a diverse community of customers, merchants and employees. We work better when everyone, including our LGBT co-workers, can bring their whole selves to work every day. That is why we support marriage equality.”

Pat Brady, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, announces that he is joining the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to lobby for the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois. ”Liberty, freedom and equality under the law are all things that Republicans and conservatives have believed in for a long, long time,” Brady tells WBEZ radio. 

September: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak visits Center on Halsted to unveil a new digital and print campaign designed to draw same-sex couples from Chicago to Minneapolis where they can get legally married. ”The people who built this neighborhood, who have done so much incredible work for this community, you deserve equal rights,” said Ryback. ”Come to Minnesota, a place that already recognizes that you should have those rights.” Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, additionally cites a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimating marriage equality could add $100 million to Illinois’ economy.

October: Thousands of marriage rights advocates and allies brave the cold rain to rally outside the Capitol as part of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, an event to mark the first day of the fall veto session.

"This is our hour, this is our moment," Gov. Quinn tells the record-breaking crowd. "We need love to sign a marriage equality law and I’ll sign it as quickly as possible." Other top state officials in the rally include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Chicago), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (D), Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R).

Throughout the afternoon, in what becomes a three-hour rally, the politicians and speakers share the stage with top LGBT musicians, including Steve Grand, Sami Grisafe and Stephen Leonard.

Equality opponents rallied the following day in Springfield.

November: As equality supporters settle in for a three-day stretch of the veto session—many not expecting a vote until the last possible minute—Harris and colleagues surprise most with a vote that’s one of the first items on the House agenda. They approve the bill on Nov. 5 by a vote of 61-54-2

"At the end of the day, this bill is about love. It’s about family. It’s about commitment," Harris tells colleagues on the floor.

Among those speaking on the legislation’s behalf is House Speaker Madigan, who sat next to former state Rep. (and current alderman) Deb Mell during the debate.

"Who am I to judge that they should be illegal? Who is the government to judge that they should be illegal, and for me, that’s the reason to support this bill," Madigan says.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) was one of three Republicans in the House to vote for in favor of the bill. The others were Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein).

"It should be a proud moment for everyone in our state, but it should be an especially proud moment for thousands of lesbian and gay families across our state, who now know they are on a very short path to achieving equality and all the protections that our law allows," Harris says during a press conference following the vote. 

On Nov. 20, with the stroke of Gov. Pat Quinn’s pen, Illinois becomes the 16th state in the country to allow full marriage equality. SB10 is signed in front of numerous elected officials, advocates and members of the public at the UIC Forum in Chicago.  

"Love never fails and I’m going to sign this bill now," says Quinn, who signs the bill—with multiple pens—on the desk Abraham Lincoln used to write his 1861 inaugural address. 

"There is no straight or gay marriage. From now on there is only marriage in Illinois," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  

For some Illinois couples, the passage is initially a bittersweet victory however. The official start date of gay marriages, thanks to rules applying to the veto session, is June 1. For couples with partners facing serious illnesses, there is no assurance that seven months would afford enough time. But a judge rules that activist Vernita Gray, who is seriously ill, and her partner Patricia Ewert can wed early. The day before Thanksgiving, they become the first same-sex couple to be legally married within Illinois.

December: A federal judge rules that two more couples with terminally ill partners can marry before the June 1 start-date. Additionally, the judge rules that the Cook County Clerk’s Office can set up a streamlined process for couples facing similar circumstances. The ruling initially only applies to Cook County, where issuance of a marriage license is dependent on the completion of a physician’s certification form that can be downloaded on the marriage equality page of the clerk’s website.

"We thank the Court and the clerk’s office for their swift response to ensure that Illinois couples who are struggling with the challenges of a life-threatening illness will have a chance to be married," says Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal. 

H/T: Matt Simonette at

h/t: Huffington Post

On Tuesday, thousands marched and rallied for marriage equality in Springfield, Illinois as the state legislature reconvened for the fall veto session. However, it’s unclear if the bill will come up for a vote, especially now that the House leadership has canceled its Thursday session, further limiting the time available for a very busy agenda. According to BuzzFeed, it won’t come up until November 5, the very last day of the veto session — if at all.

As the Windy City Times’ Tracy Baim explained last month, the situation is complicated by a behind-the-scenes strategy, such that it’s difficult to determine which lawmaker stands where on the issue until a vote is actually held. Still, there is reason to be optimistic that the bill has better chances than it did when lawmakers failed to bring it up to a vote in June. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) inUnited States v. Windsor, which nullified the position of those satisfied with Illinois’ civil unions. Some of the federal benefits now available to same-sex couples are not available to couples in civil unions, and Social Security will only be offered to couples living in marriage equality states.

The Windsor decision is having a lasting impact on public sentiment as well, according to a new poll from Equality Illinois. The poll found that 52 percent of Illinois voters support marriage equality, but when they were reminded ofWindsor and the fact that Illinois same-sex couples cannot access federal benefits, support climbed to 54 percent. Only 40 percent oppose marriage equality — a number that dipped to 39 percent when reminded of the fall of DOMA.

Opponents of marriage equality, led by the hate group-identified Illinois Family Institute, will hold their own march in Springfield Wednesday. IFI’s rhetoric is incredibly hostile, with Cultural Analyst Laurie Higgins describing homosexuality this summer as a “tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force.” She also recently compared homosexuality to theft, plagiarism, promiscuity, and substance abuse, defending anti-gay bullying in schools. IFI believeshomosexuality can be changed and even offers a guide for when married — or as IFI says, “married” — same-sex couples decide to repent of their lifestyles.

Recent marriage equality victories in other states provide guidance for how the legislation might prevail in Illinois. At Tuesday’s rally, prominent lawmakers were already leading the charge by publicly calling for the bill’s passage. Here’s a highlight reel from Progress Illinois, featuring Gov. Pat Quinn (D), Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D):

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plans to run for reelection next year.

“I am out there running,” he told POLITICO earlier this week.

The majority whip has been raising money but has not hired campaign staff yet.

h/t: Politico

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin signaled Wednesday it may already be time to reopen the debate about the chamber’s rules, given Republicans have attempted to or plan to filibuster three presidential appointments in the month and a half since the chamber approved modest filibuster changes.

At the start of this Congress in January, Senate leaders reached a bipartisan agreement to slightly alter the chamber’s rules in a bid to make the Senate work more efficiently.

“We have tried at the beginning of this Senate session to avoid this kind of filibuster confrontation. The last several years we have had over 400 filibusters — a record number of filibusters in the Senate,” Durbin said.

“I hate to suggest this, but if this is an indication of where we’re headed, we need to revisit the rules again,” the Illinois Democrat said. “We need to go back to it again. I’m sorry to say it because I — was hopeful that a bipartisan approach to dealing with these issues would work.”

“It’s the best thing for this chamber, for the people serving here and the history of this institution,” Durbin said of the bipartisan arrangement. “But if this Caitlin Halligan nomination is an indication of things to come, we’ve got to revisit the rules.”

Halligan’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has been among the most contentious of President Barack Obama’s tenure. In 2011, she failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican opposition in 2011, but Obama renominated her this year. Senate Republicans again successfully filibustered Halligan’s nomination Wednesday morning, by a vote of 51-41. Sixty votes were needed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated his opposition to Halligan on Wednesday morning.

“I’ll be voting against cloture on this nomination. I urge my colleagues to do the same,” McConnell said. “Our decision to do so is not unprecedented. Far from it. Many of our Democratic colleagues who are expressing shock and utter amazement that we would deny cloture on Ms. Halligan’s nomination a second time, felt absolutely no compunction about repeatedly denying cloture on Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the same court.”

In invoking Estrada’s name, McConnell is connecting Halligan to the most famous nominee of the judicial nomination feuds during the George W. Bush administration.

h/t: Roll Call

A look at the 1996 United States Senate campaign between then Democratic U.S. Rep. Dick Durbin and Republican Illinois State Rep. Al Salvi sheds an all-too-familiar light on how the effort to prevent gun violence has become a make-or-break issue for Illinois voters in next Tuesday’s special election to fill former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr’s seat.

After edging out the moderate Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra in the 1996 GOP primary, Al Salvi represented the most appealing, convincing candidate the Republican Party had presented in Illinois and was believed to have a legitimate chance at winning the Senate seat. The young NRA poster boy for Illinois spent his time on the campaign trail asserting the ’94 federal assault weapons ban was “silly,” calling the ’93 Brady Handgun Bill “cosmetic,” and offering to legalize concealed weapons in order to cut crime.

Meanwhile, Salvi’s opponent, then Representative Durbin was actively campaigning for sensible gun violence prevention measures. After co-sponsoring the ’93 Brady Handgun bill and supporting the ’94 assault weapons ban, he told Illinois voters, “We will not be a safer nation, a safer state, if people are carrying guns around shopping malls and restaurants.” Durbin joined forces with President Reagan’s former press secretary and gun-control activist Jim Brady to film a campaign ad that portrayed Salvi as an extremist on gun issues. In a Sunday radio interview just days before the election, Salvi responded by falsely charging that Jim Brady “used to sell” machine guns. Salvi later apologized and conceded, “Turns out that was a different Jim Brady.”

Salvi’s last-minute gaffe and extreme stance on guns proved to fracture the Illinois Republican party and rally Illinois voters around candidates who supported gun violence prevention. In one example, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police opted to support Democratic House candidate Rod Blagojevich over the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep Michael Flanagan, who earlier that year had supported an attempt to repeal the federal assault weapons ban. In his endorsement, the union’s president, Bill Nolan, said, “(It’s) almost a one-issue thing, and that is the guns.”

Salvi’s extreme stance on guns cost him the election. Durbin won the race by a landslide, leading Salvi 57 percent to 40 percent. Durbin acknowledged in his victory speech how important gun violence prevention was to Illinois voters: “I hope this victory tonight is a message that no political official in this state should ever, ever be cowered by the gun extremists.”

Seventeen years later, the gun debate, yet again, takes center stage in the Chicago-area congressional race to fill former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s vacated seat.

New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a vocal advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention measures, has shown a considerable interest in the first election since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. His super PAC, Independence USA, has already spent $2.1 million in TV ad buys attacking former Congresswoman Halvorson and other candidates who refuse to take a stand on gun violence prevention measures. The Independence USA ad endorses former state Rep. Robin Kelly who released her own video highlighting her support for sensible gun measures, including bans on assault weapons and high capacity gun magazines.

In a race to represent a district severely shaken by gun violence, the movement to prevent gun violence again proves to be a critical issue. If history is any indication of which candidate Illinois voters will elect, Debbie Halvorson’s extremism may cost her.

h/t: Robert Avruch at Think Progress

(via Daily Kos: Dick Durbin dismantles Wayne LaPierre)

Warning: If you’re a fan of Wayne LaPierre and his stewardship of the National Rifle Association, do not watch this video from today’s Senate Judiciary Committee gun control hearing, because Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) completely demolishes him, along with his argument against gun background checks.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will chair the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he announced on Friday.

Durbin said he learned the news late Thursday. He will be in charge of appropriating funds for the military and intelligence community, for national security requirements and the needs of more than two million active duty and reserve servicemembers.

H/T: Chicago Sun-Times