City’s organizing community restless

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Rauner v. Quinn. It’s going to be a long, hot season.

The class war of the Nov. 2 election campaign was declared primary night. The polls were barely closed when Gov. Pat Quinn slammed out of the box with stark TV ads attacking Bruce Rauner’s shifting position on the minimum wage.

The venture capitalist got a fright. The 17 to 20 percent margin promised by fickle polls vanished. Crossover public union voters responded to Rauner’s fierce threats by voting Republican for the first time in their lives.

The three GOP state legislators who voted for same-sex marriage held onto their seats, thanks to major cash and energy from their defenders in the gay rights community.

The marriage deal is done. There’s no going back. Religious conservatives, and some in the African-American church, promised hellfire and brimstone.

Damnation did not materialize.

Vernita Gray, the fierce and beloved lesbian activist, can finally rest. She died on election night.

In November, Gray and partner Pat Ewert became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Illinois. They won court approval to wed ahead of the June 1, 2014, official start date of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Gray was terminally ill.

Gray fully earned a few precious months of equality. As gay activist Rick Garcia put it, “Today, we have a powerful advocate in heaven.”

Progressive organizing took some hits. Six years after Barack Obama deployed his community-organizing pedigree to take the presidency, two leading Chicago organizers failed to make the cut.


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