Mt. Vernon Register-News

July 24, 2012

Protesters gather outside board meeting

They were protesting the board’s resolution in support of marriage as between one man and one woman

By RORYE O’CONNOR
rorye.oconnor@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — More than 50 people dressed in bright colors and armed with rainbow umbrellas and signs constituted a “peaceful protest” outside the Jefferson County Board meeting on Monday.

The protest was organized by Amanda Duncan, a Jefferson County resident, in opposition to the Jefferson County Board’s June 25 resolution in support of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Duncan said she organized the protest almost as soon as she heard about the resolution.

“We want to let the homosexual community know that these 12 members are not the majority,” she said. “There is support for them here. You can’t call yourself a community and then exclude a group.”

She said she hoped the board would consider rescinding the resolution.

“I don’t like the message it sends,” she said. “I think it takes the county back several steps. I appreciate traditionalism, however, deciding to impose it on someone else is not right.”

Duncan said though the protest attracted about 50 people, more might have come if they didn’t fear ramifications at work.

Mt. Vernon Attorney Vito A. Mastrangelo spoke to the board during public input, telling them he felt the board went out of its way to create division in the county.

“I understand the county board does not have authority to ban same-sex marriage or approve it, so we were kind of surprised that you had a resolution on the record, and that you were taking your time to do that,” he said. “There’s quite a few people in the gay community here in Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County, and there’s people who are sympathetic to their problems in getting health care ...”

He added the protesters would be “thrilled” if the board decided to rescind its resolution.

Board Chairman Robert White said the resolution was brought to the board by Board Member Wayne Hails in response to Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez refusing to defend a decades-old gay marriage ban.

Board Member Jeremy Hall, the only board member to vote against the resolution, said he was frustrated that the board chose to issue a resolution against a state issue when there are local issues, such as the “bring your own beer” strip club located in Dix, that the board failed to prevent.

In other business, the board: