Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shake-Up At Anti-Gay Illinois Group

Shake-Up At Anti-Gay Illinois Group
by Amy Wooten
Copyright by The Windy City Times

Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the ultra-conservative, anti-gay Illinois Family Institute ( IFI ) , is leaving his position to re-launch a group he founded in 1996, Americans for Truth ( AFT ) , an anti-gay group left dormant for a number of years.
Taking his place is former IFI senior policy analyst Dave Smith, who is very involved in Protect Marriage Illinois’ downhill battle to place an anti-gay marriage referendum on the November ballot. Protect Marriage Illinois ( PMI ) is a sister organization to IFI. Although some members of the GLBT community feel that LaBarbera was pushed out due to the failure of the referendum under his leadership, as well as other items on IFI’s agenda, LaBarbera told Windy City Times these claims are “totally erroneous,” and that he simply wants to focus on AFT, a group with a specifically focused anti-gay agenda.

LaBarbera added in a voicemail to Windy City Times that the theory does not make sense, considering one of PMI’s key leaders has been promoted to head IFI.

“I am delighted that soon I will be able to devote my full time and energies to Americans for Truth and its goal of educating citizens on the threat that the powerful and well-funded GLBT movement poses to children, marriage and freedom,” LaBarbera posted on the AFT Web site. “Homosexual, bisexual and transsexual groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year to market and normalize their abhorrent lifestyles, yet after all these years there is not a single, serious national group dedicated specifically to exposing and countering their agendas.”

Bob Schwartz of Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) sees LaBarbera’s departure as a large victory for the GLBT community. “We consider this resignation to be a significant event. It’s a defeat for the right wing in Illinois.”

Schwartz and GLN feel that LaBarbera didn’t so much resign, but was pushed out by IFI members for “massively miscalculating” on the anti-gay marriage referendum, wasting a large amount of money and time. They also speculate that LaBarbera’s failure to get African-American churches to come on board, and his obsession countering the “homosexual agenda” in a multi-issue group such as I


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